The purpose of this paper is to discuss the social problem of depression from a multi-theoretical perspective. It explores depression through the lens of two psychologically based theories of human behavior, existential theory and cognitive theory, as well as through the vehicle of two sociological theories, Marxist theory and the theory of oppression. By understanding how each of these theories explains depression, social workers may be helped to see the complexity of treating the problem. It is the belief of the authors that social work literature, which is often dominated by reductionist, quantitativelybased research studies, has increasingly ignored theoretical explorations of key social problems such as depression, to the determent of the profession and the disciplines which inform it.

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