What Is Major Depression?
Updated: Aug 4
Major depression, also known as clinical depression, is a depressive or mental condition characterized by at least two weeks of persistently low mood, low self-esteem, and lack of interest or pleasure in things that are typically pleasurable. People who are affected by major depression may also have hallucinations or delusions from time to time.
Major depression is diagnosed using a person's stated symptoms and the results of an examination of their mental state. There is no laboratory test for the disease; however, testing may be performed to rule out physical disorders that might cause comparable symptoms. The most common onset age is in the twenties, with females affected almost twice as frequently as males. The disorder can range from a single episode lasting months to a lifetime condition characterized by recurring severe depressive episodes.
What Causes Major Depression?
Some common causes of major depression include:
Social isolation and emotions of deprivation
Physical, sexual, and psychological abuse
Important life transitions — relocation, graduation, career change, and retirement
Loss of a loved one as a result of death, divorce, or separation
Conflicts in personal relationships, whether with a significant other or a superior
What Are The Common Symptoms Of Major Depression?
According to the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), a person suffering from major depression may display a variety of symptoms. These symptoms may consist of:
A noticeable loss of interest or enjoyment in virtually all activities almost on a daily basis
Restlessness or a sense of sluggishness
Feelings of fatigue
Frequent feelings of worthlessness or remorse
Lack of attention and indecisiveness
Lack of sleep or excessive sleeping
Recurrent thoughts of suicide or death
Substantial weight loss or gain
Major Depression Severity And Specifiers
Typical depression is characterized by low motivation, sadness, and an increased urge to sleep, while major depressive condition includes several symptoms. Individuals' major depressive disorder might differ in terms of symptom severity, symptom recurrence, and a set of specifiers that define the condition's specific features.
Major Depression Severity
The severity of major depressive illness may be broken down into three categories:
Mild: With mild major depression, also known as high-functioning depression, a person will have few symptoms, and their symptoms are mild. Depression will not hinder the individual's ability to operate, and their loved ones may not even recognize it.
Moderate: Moderate major depression is characterized by observable changes in the individual's presentation and performance at home, workplace, and school. There will be an increase in the number or severity of symptoms.
Severe: When major depression is severe, the individual will experience several intense symptoms. The distress caused by the symptoms will prevent the individual from maintaining a job, social interactions, and home obligations.
Major Depressive Disorder Specifiers
Specifiers further describe additional characteristics of major depression.
The most prevalent characteristics of major depression include:
Psychotic features: A major depressive disorder with psychotic characteristics can result in several detrimental symptoms, such as delusions and hallucinations.
Peripartum onset: Peripartum onset is the emergence of depression during pregnancy or in the weeks immediately following childbirth.
Seasonal pattern: Major depression with a seasonal pattern, often known as a seasonal affective disorder, is characterized by symptoms that intensify and improve with the seasons.
Anxious distress: This specifier is included in the diagnostic whenever a person reports solely having anxiety symptoms when they are experiencing depressive episodes.
Treatment of Major Depression
There are multiple ways to be treated for major depression; therefore, each individual should get care that is suited to their own needs. A professional treatment plan, which frequently involves psychotherapy, medication management, and lifestyle adjustments, can alleviate depressive symptoms. Let’s look at those treatment options more in detail below:
Psychotherapy is also known as "talk therapy". A person suffering from major depression generally attends sessions with a therapist to identify and treat symptoms related to depression. The most common types of therapy utilized in the treatment of major depression are cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, and acceptance and commitment therapy.
Medication Management- Medication for Major Depression
Antidepressants can be helpful in managing major depression. People who are interested in taking medication for depression should always speak with their primary care physician or psychiatrist before beginning treatment with a new prescription. This will assist them in minimizing adverse effects and identifying the most effective therapy solutions.
Lifestyle Changes And Self-Help for Major Depression
Lifestyle changes can complement and enhance the efficacy of therapy and medicines. However, changing one's lifestyle is not a good substitute for seeking treatment from a skilled professional.
Among the lifestyle modifications that can help with clinical depression are:
Spending more time with family and friends
Increasing physical exercise
Concentrating on smaller activities and performing one activity at a time
Establishing a regular schedule that includes eating and sleeping at the same times every day
Abstinence from alcohol and other drugs
Sharing emotions and thoughts with dependable supporters
Avoid making significant life decisions when symptoms are severe
Discovering and joining online and local support groups
Can Major Depression Be Prevented?
People who once suffered clinical depression could have symptoms back in the future. To prevent another episode of depression, it is important to be informed of the causes of major depression and to continue taking the medication prescribed to prevent a recurrence. This is the most effective method for preventing a recurrence of depression. In addition, it is crucial to be aware of the signs and symptoms of clinical depression and to get immediate medical attention if you encounter any of the symptoms.
Some individuals may feel that they can manage major depression without professional assistance. Seeking help for mental health problems may be scary, but you are not alone. One in five Americans suffer from mental health issues, and many feel better when they seek help. There are many online mental health care providers who you can access without leaving your home. If you have tried treatments for major depression and you are not feeling any better, ketamine-assisted psychotherapy may be helpful for you.
Isha Health provides online ketamine-assisted psychotherapy. If you'd like to speak to our medical team, click here.