What MDD looks like?
Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) consists of the constant feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. It is pervasive and chronic causing significant impairment to functioning.
The standard authority for psychiatric disorders, Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders V, defines major depressive disorder by the following criteria (5th ed.; DSM–5; American Psychiatric Association, 2013):
- Depressed mood or a loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities for more than two weeks.
- Mood represents a change from the person’s baseline.
- Impaired function: social, occupational, educational
- Specific symptoms, at least 5 of these 9, present nearly every day:
- Depressed mood or irritable most of the day, nearly every day, as indicated by either subjective report (e.g., feels sad or empty) or observation made by others (e.g., appears tearful).
- Decreased interest or pleasure in most activities, most of each day
- Significant weight change (5%) or change in appetite
- Change in sleep: Insomnia or hypersomnia
- Change in activity: Psychomotor agitation or retardation
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Guilt/worthlessness: Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt
- Concentration: diminished ability to think or concentrate, or more indecisiveness
- Suicidality: Thoughts of death or suicide, or has suicide plan
What Treatment Options are Available?
- MDD is often treated with a combination of treatments. These can include:
- Anti-Depressants- Depending on the severity of the symptoms, medication can be prescribed.
- Talk Therapy- Therapy addresses the emotional state of an individual and helps process triggers which may have caused or exasperated the depression such as loss of a loved one, divorce, abuse, or social isolation, etc.
- Electric Convulsive Therapy (ECT)- This treatment sends small, electric currents to the brain that can quickly reverse symptoms of depression.
Where should I start if I or a loved one seems to meet these criteria?
- Seek out a physician or licensed mental health professional or your physician.
- Psychiatrists are medical doctors and treat mental health issues by finding organic causes influencing symptoms, hypothyroidism can mimic symptoms of depression, and can prescribe medication, if necessary.
- Psychologists are skilled in assessing and diagnosing mental health issues and can provide therapeutic counsel.
- Licensed therapists are trained to help you develop skills to manage the diagnosis and its effects on your life.
- Talk to someone you trust about the changes you’ve see in yourself or a loved one. Invitie a trusted family member or friend to support you on your journey toward improved health and well-being.
- Become educated about depression in general ane learn the options available to you.
If you feel suicidal or are experiencing thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or proceed immediately to the nearest emergency room.
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.