Write a case study addressinng the following: two etiological causes, three symptoms, and two forms of treatment for a mental disorder.

Assignment Question

Your case study is to be the equivalent of three pages, double-spaced. Your written case study must address the following: two etiological causes, three symptoms, and two forms of treatment for a mental disorder. Please bold font these causes, symptoms, and forms of treatment. Please also address some of the other information listed below that you see as pertinent to your case. You will need to provide in-text citations of your sources in APA style as well as APA style references at the end of the paper. You should write your paper in narrative format (as if it were a story being told from either the perspective of the therapist or the client (most students write it from the perspective of the therapist). You will select a mental disorder on which to write your case study. To write your case study, carefully consider the symptoms of the disorder as listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5 (DSM 5)



In my clinical practice, Sarah’s initial arrival was marked by a palpable air of despondency. Her demeanor, once vibrant, was now shrouded in an inexplicable heaviness that seemed to weigh upon every word she spoke. The specter of depression loomed large as she narrated the haunting narrative of her life over the past year. With each passing moment, it became increasingly evident that Sarah was entrenched in the throes of a profound emotional turmoil, struggling against an invisible adversary that had dimmed the once-illuminating facets of her personality. This encounter sparked the beginning of an odyssey toward understanding and healing.

Etiological Causes

Sarah’s battle with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) unfolded against a backdrop shaped by biological and psychosocial factors. A pivotal component contributing to her condition was the biological predisposition inherited from her family. Research indicates a strong genetic component in the development of MDD, with individuals having a first-degree relative affected by depression being two to three times more likely to develop the disorder (Smith et al., 2021). Sarah’s family history of depression, particularly her mother’s struggles, highlighted the genetic vulnerability she carried, amplifying her susceptibility to depressive episodes. Beyond genetic predispositions, neurochemical imbalances played a significant role in Sarah’s manifestation of MDD. Neuroimaging studies have consistently shown alterations in brain structures and neurotransmitter functioning in individuals with depression (Smith et al., 2021). Sarah’s neuroimaging results revealed dysregulations in serotonin and dopamine pathways, neurotransmitters crucial in mood regulation. This imbalance contributed to her persistent feelings of sadness and the inability to experience pleasure, hallmark symptoms of MDD. In addition to biological factors, psychosocial stressors served as catalysts in precipitating Sarah’s depressive episode. Life stressors, such as the loss of a close family member and subsequent financial strain, created a fertile ground for the onset and exacerbation of her depressive symptoms (Jones & Brown, 2020). These stressors acted as triggers, amplifying her feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, exacerbating the intensity and duration of her depressive episodes.

Furthermore, cognitive vulnerabilities intertwined with these etiological causes, perpetuating the cycle of Sarah’s depression. Cognitive theories suggest that maladaptive thought patterns and cognitive distortions play a pivotal role in maintaining depressive symptoms (Barnes & Smith, 2019). Sarah exhibited cognitive symptoms such as persistent feelings of worthlessness and recurrent thoughts of death or suicide. These negative cognitive schemas compounded her emotional distress, exacerbating the severity of her depressive episode. Navigating through the labyrinth of etiological factors underlying Sarah’s MDD highlighted the multifaceted nature of this disorder. It underscored the intricate interplay between genetic vulnerabilities, neurochemical imbalances, psychosocial stressors, and cognitive patterns, all converging to create the complex tapestry of her depressive experience. Understanding these interconnected elements was crucial in tailoring a holistic treatment approach that addressed the varied dimensions of her condition.


Sarah’s struggle with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) was characterized by a constellation of symptoms that pervaded various facets of her life. Central to her experience was the persistent depressed mood, an emotional state that colored her perception of the world and significantly dampened her overall well-being (American Psychiatric Association, 2018). This pervasive sense of sadness lingered relentlessly, eclipsing moments that were once filled with joy and contentment. Accompanying her depressed mood was the profound anhedonia, a hallmark symptom of MDD that stripped away Sarah’s ability to derive pleasure from activities she once cherished (American Psychiatric Association, 2018). Hobbies that used to bring her solace and joy now felt hollow and devoid of any emotional resonance, amplifying her sense of emptiness. The disruption in Sarah’s sleep patterns was another notable manifestation of her depressive episode. She frequently experienced insomnia, struggling to initiate or maintain sleep throughout the night. This sleep disturbance further exacerbated her fatigue and contributed to a perpetual state of lethargy (American Psychiatric Association, 2018). Sarah’s appetite disturbance was also a prominent symptom, with her experiencing a significant change leading to unintentional weight loss (American Psychiatric Association, 2018). Her disinterest in food and subsequent weight loss further mirrored the pervasive impact of depression on her physical health.

Moreover, Sarah grappled with a myriad of cognitive symptoms that greatly impaired her daily functioning. Persistent feelings of worthlessness plagued her thoughts, leading to a profound sense of self-doubt and inadequacy (Barnes & Smith, 2019). These feelings were accompanied by recurrent thoughts of death or suicide, reflecting the depth of her emotional anguish and despair (American Psychiatric Association, 2018). Sarah’s ability to concentrate and make decisions was significantly impaired, affecting her work performance and interpersonal relationships (Barnes & Smith, 2019). Her cognitive faculties were clouded by a persistent fog, hindering her from engaging fully in tasks that once seemed effortless. These multifaceted symptoms encapsulated the breadth and depth of Sarah’s depressive episode, highlighting the pervasive nature of Major Depressive Disorder and its profound impact on various domains of her life. Understanding the intricacies of these symptoms was crucial in formulating a comprehensive treatment plan tailored to address the multifaceted manifestations of her condition.

Forms of Treatment

Sarah’s journey toward healing from Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) encompassed a tailored treatment plan integrating psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy, offering a multifaceted approach to address the complex layers of her condition. The cornerstone of Sarah’s treatment was Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), a well-established psychotherapeutic approach that targets maladaptive thought patterns and behaviors contributing to depression (Hofmann et al., 2022). Through structured sessions, Sarah learned to identify and challenge negative thought patterns, replacing them with more adaptive and constructive beliefs. CBT empowered her with coping strategies and problem-solving skills, equipping her to navigate the challenges that previously seemed insurmountable.

In conjunction with psychotherapy, pharmacotherapy played a pivotal role in Sarah’s treatment. Specifically, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) were prescribed to address the neurochemical imbalances identified through neuroimaging studies (Gartlehner et al., 2020). SSRIs, such as fluoxetine or sertraline, work by increasing serotonin levels in the brain, alleviating depressive symptoms. This medication intervention provided a foundation for Sarah to actively engage in therapy by alleviating the intensity of her symptoms, enabling her to participate more effectively in the therapeutic process. Lifestyle modifications complemented Sarah’s treatment plan. Incorporating regular physical activity and ensuring a balanced diet enriched with omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients linked to mood regulation were recommended adjuncts to her therapy and medication regimen (Gartlehner et al., 2020). These lifestyle changes aimed to bolster the effectiveness of her treatment by promoting overall well-being and augmenting the neurochemical pathways targeted by medication.

Additionally, support groups and peer interventions served as valuable adjuncts to Sarah’s formal treatment. Engaging with individuals experiencing similar challenges fostered a sense of community and belonging, providing a platform for mutual support and shared experiences (Hofmann et al., 2022). These interactions outside formal therapy sessions reinforced the coping strategies learned in therapy, offering a network of understanding and encouragement. The integration of these varied treatment modalities tailored to Sarah’s specific needs underscored the importance of a comprehensive approach in addressing the multifaceted nature of Major Depressive Disorder. Combining psychotherapeutic interventions, pharmacotherapy, lifestyle modifications, and social support mechanisms formed a holistic framework that empowered Sarah on her path to recovery.


Sarah’s journey through therapy unveiled the intricate layers of her resilience and the potency of integrated treatment approaches. As our sessions progressed, the shadows of despair gradually receded, unveiling the resilience that lay dormant within her. Witnessing Sarah’s gradual metamorphosis, from a person submerged in despair to one radiating newfound hope, was a testament to the efficacy of tailored interventions. With each step forward, she reclaimed pieces of herself thought lost, rekindling a sense of purpose and vitality. As our therapeutic journey reached its culmination, Sarah stood as a testament to the power of personalized care, reaffirming the possibility of healing even in the face of profound adversity.


American Psychiatric Association. (2018). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.). American Psychiatric Publishing.

Barnes, M., & Smith, J. (2019). Cognitive symptoms of depression. Journal of Affective Disorders, 245, 545-552.

Gartlehner, G., et al. (2020). Comparative benefits and harms of antidepressants, psychological, complementary, and exercise treatments for major depression: An evidence synthesis of major depressive disorder. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 89(1), 6-18.

Hofmann, S. G., et al. (2022). The efficacy of cognitive behavioral therapy: A review of meta-analyses. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 46(1), 1-18.

Jones, A., & Brown, K. (2020). Life stressors and depression. Current Opinion in Psychology, 32, 98-103.

Smith, R. H., et al. (2021). Neuroimaging findings in major depressive disorder: A comprehensive review. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 123, 61-77.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)? Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is a mental health condition characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, a loss of interest or pleasure in activities, and various cognitive and physical symptoms that significantly impact daily life. It’s a pervasive and debilitating condition affecting mood, thoughts, and behavior.

2. What are some common causes of MDD? MDD can stem from various factors. Biological causes include genetic predisposition and neurochemical imbalances affecting mood regulation. Psychosocial factors such as major life stressors, like the loss of a loved one or financial strain, can also contribute to its onset and exacerbation.

3. What are the typical symptoms of MDD? Symptoms of MDD include a persistent depressed mood, anhedonia (loss of interest in activities), disrupted sleep and appetite patterns, fatigue, feelings of worthlessness, and recurrent thoughts of death or suicide. Cognitive impairments like poor concentration and decision-making are also common.

4. What treatment options are available for MDD? Treatment for MDD often involves a combination of psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy. Psychotherapy, like Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), helps individuals challenge negative thought patterns and develop coping strategies. Pharmacotherapy includes medications like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), regulating neurotransmitters to alleviate symptoms.

5. How effective is the combination of therapy and medication in treating MDD? Research indicates that combining psychotherapy, such as CBT, with medication like SSRIs can be highly effective in managing and alleviating symptoms of MDD. This combined approach addresses both the psychological and neurochemical aspects of the disorder, offering comprehensive support for individuals dealing with MDD.

Last Completed Projects

topic title academic level Writer delivered