Major Depressive Disorder


Major depressive disorder is also known as clinical depression or major depression. It is a mental disorder that causes one’s overall mood to be low coupled with low self esteem and loss of interest or pleasure in activities that one usually finds to be enjoyable.

People with major depression may commit suicide since it affects their family, work and general health. Before one can be diagnosed with depression, behavior that is consistent with depression must be reported by the individual or by their relatives. An examination of mental status must also be carried out.

Though there is no specific test for depression, tests for physical conditions with similar symptoms are usually requested. This helps to eliminate these physical conditions as a possibility leaving only depression.

Major depressive disorder is usually treated with antidepressants and psychotherapy. A few patients are treated with Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). ECT involves electrically induced seizures for therapeutic effect. It is only used in patients who fail to respond to other medication.

Most people who have suffered from major depressive disorder recover completely after treatment. Major depression may affect one’s physical health causing them to have shorter life expectancies. There is said to be a four fold increase in deaths of patients of clinical depression. Patients of depression may be stigmatized in the community. Women are more prone to major depression compared to men.

Various causes of major depressive disorder have been proposed. They include psychological, hereditary and biological factors. Long term use of drugs can cause depression.

Symptoms of major depressive disorder include unpleasant hallucinations, poor memory, withdrawal from social activities, loss of libido and suicidal thoughts. Other symptoms may include changes in sleeping patterns such as insomnia or hypersomnia and weight loss or gain caused by changes in eating habits. However, taking some antidepressants may cause insomnia.

Psychotherapy is usually delivered to patients by psychotherapists, psychiatrists, psychologists and counselors. Psychotherapy is usually more effective in older people. Cognitive Behavioral therapy is the most commonly used form of psychotherapy. In treating clinical depression, psychotherapy is usually combined with medical treatment. Psychoanalysis focuses on the resolution of unconscious metal conflicts.

The effects of medication on severe depression have been said to be more significant than those of psychotherapy. Different combinations of antidepressants are usually used to find the dosage with least side effects. A patient may take between 6-8 weeks to get back to their normal self.

Selective serotonin inhibitors are the most commonly prescribed antidepressants. They are effective, have mild side effects and are less harmful in overdose. Common antidepressants include Zoloft and Prozac. Some antidepressants may be addictive resulting in severe withdrawal symptoms. Such antidepressants include Paxil and Effexor. It is advised that patients should slowly withdraw from these medications over a period of 3 months. However, most antidepressants don’t have severe withdrawal symptoms.

Natural methods have also been used to treat depression. A combination of all these types of treatment leads to a faster recovery. Very few patients experience recurring episodes of depression. With treatment it is possible to recover fully from major depression.