Understanding Major Depression: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment | Isha Health

Mental Health

Understanding Major Depression: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment | Isha Health

Written by

Isha Team


July 27, 2022


October 27, 2023

Major depression, also known as major depressive disorder(MDD), 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 severe 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 average onset age is between 35 and 40 years old, 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

Treatment of Major Depression

There are multiple ways to be treated for major depression; therefore, each individual should get the 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 in more 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 therapy may be helpful for you.

Isha Health provides online ketamine therapy. If you'd like to speak to our medical team, click here.

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