Major Depressive Disorder: Sadness is a natural part of the human experience. People may feel sad or depressed when a loved one passes away or when they’re going through a life challenge, such as a divorce or serious illness. These feelings are normally short-lived. When someone experiences persistent and intense feelings of sadness for extended periods of time, then they may have a mood disorder such as major depressive disorder (MDD).
MDD, also referred to as clinical depression, is a mental disorder and significant medical condition characterised by at least two weeks of pervasive low mood that can affect many areas of your life. Low self-esteem, loss of interest in normally enjoyable activities, low energy, and pain without a clear cause are common symptoms. It impacts mood and behaviour as well as various physical functions, such as appetite and sleep. Some people have periods of depression separated by years, while others nearly always have symptoms present
The diagnosis of major depressive disorder is based on the person’s reported experiences and a mental status examination also, health professional can make a diagnosis of major depressive disorder based on your symptoms, feelings, and behaviours. There is no laboratory test for the disorder, but testing may be done to rule out physical conditions that can cause similar symptoms and hospitalisation may be necessary in cases with a risk of harm to self and may occasionally occur against a person’s wishes. Those with major depressive disorder are typically treated with counselling and antidepressant medication. Medication appears to be effective, but the effect may only be significant in the most severely depressed.
What can Cause Depression
- The biopsychosocial model proposes that biological, psychological, and social factors all play a role in causing depression. The diathesis–stress model specifies that depression results when a preexisting vulnerability, or diathesis, is activated by stressful life events. The preexisting vulnerability can be either genetic, implying an interaction between nature and nurture, or schematic, resulting from views of the world learned in childhood.
- Childhood abuse, either physical, sexual or psychological, are all risk factors for depression, among other psychiatric issues that co-occur such as anxiety and drug abuse. Childhood trauma also correlates with severity of depression, lack of response to treatment and length of illness. However, some are more susceptible to developing mental illness such as depression after trauma, and various genes have been suggested to control susceptibility and like other psychiatric conditions depression could also be genetic.
- Depression may also come secondary to a chronic or terminal medical condition, such as HIV/AIDS or asthma, and may be labeled “secondary depression. Depression may also be iatrogenic (the result of healthcare), such as drug-induced depression. Therapies associated with depression include interferons, beta-blockers, isotretinoin, contraceptives, cardiac agents, anticonvulsants, antimigraine drugs, antipsychotics, and hormonal agents such as gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonist. Drug abuse in early age is also associated with increased risk of developing depression later in life. Depression that occurs as a result of pregnancy is called postpartum depression, and is thought to be the result of hormonal changes associated with pregnancy.
Signs of Major Depressive Disorder
Major depressive disorder symptoms are very similar to mild depressive disorder. However, they’re usually more severe. Also, rather than having them only on some days, you usually feel some or all of these symptoms every day for most of the day. Here are the emotional and behavioural symptoms of major depression:-
- Overwhelming feelings of hopelessness, sadness, or emptiness
- Displays of anger over small things, as well as being irritable and easily frustrated
- Losing all interest in your usual activities, including sex
- Being anxious or restless
- Having trouble making decisions
- Difficulty concentrating or remembering things
- Thinking a lot about death and suicide
There are also several physical signs of depression that you might notice and they include:-
- Having insomnia or sleeping too much
- Intense cravings for food or loss of appetite
- Gaining or losing weight
- Experiencing physical problems that don’t go away with treatment and can’t be explained
- Feeling so tired that even small tasks seem difficult
Management of Major Depressive Disorder
Treatment for depression should start with seeing your doctor.
The three most common treatments for depression are
Also, types of counselling used in Major Depressive Disorder includes:-
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) which may be considered if other measures are not effective.