Is depression "evolutionary" or just "adaptive"? A comment

Christopher F. Sharpley*, Vicki Bitsika

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Some recent explanations of depression have suggested that it may be "evolutionary" in that there are advantages to the depressed individual which arise from some aspects of depressive symptomatology. While the depressive behaviour of withdrawal from the adverse environment may provide some immediate benefits to the depressed individual, thus making it potentially "adaptive" in the short-term, this does not fit the biological definition of "evolutionary". In fact, depression does not meet two of the three required criteria from natural selection in order to be evolutionary. Therefore, while some depressive behaviour may be advantageous for the depressed individual, and is therefore "adaptive" in an immediate sense, it cannot be accurately described as "evolutionary". Implications for research and clinical practice are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number631502
JournalDepression Research and Treatment
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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