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Neuroscience: Biology and Behavior

In completing the case study, students will be addressing the following learning objectives:
Discuss neuroplasticity and how this concept relates to mental health and mental illness.
Briefly explain the importance of interaction between genes and environment, the role of endophenotypes, and the stress-diathesis model of psychiatric illness.
1. Michael is a 22-year-old college senior whose GPA has declined with this semester?s grades. Michael plans to apply to medical school and thinks that the lower GPA may prevent his acceptance to medical school. For the last 2 weeks, Michael has skipped most classes because he has insomnia and fatigue. Michael is now very depressed and has been thinking of suicide. He took a loaded gun from his father?s gun cabinet and then wrote a suicide note to his family. At the last moment, he telephoned 911 and told them of his suicide plan. The police came, took the gun away, and then took Michael to the city hospital to be admitted for psychiatric treatment. In the admission interview with the psychiatric nurse, Michael said that his pastor thought that only weak-willed people experienced depression and that it was a punishment for personal sins and the sins of one?s ancestors. Michael told the nurse that he must be weak-willed and will never be able to accomplish anything. The psychiatric nurse explained that multiple factors are the cause of depression. The nurse told Michael that one theory holds that an imbalance of neurotransmitters, or chemical messengers of the brain, occurs in depression. Neurotransmitters influence the individual?s emotions, thoughts, and subsequent behavior. Recent research implies that neurobiology, heredity, as well as Psychological and environmental factors may be involved in the development and progression of depression.
(Learning Objectives: 5, 6)
a. Will Michael think that the psychiatric nurse?s explanation for the cause of depression is more correct than that of his pastor?
b. Michael asks the nurse why he has to have psychotherapy. He states that he only needs to take a couple of pills to get better. How should the nurse respond to Michael?s question and comment?
c. Develop an assessment question for each of the following possible causes of Michael?s development of depression:
Genetic, Environment and Stress.

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