What is it?
Major depressive disorder (MDD), also known simply as depression, is a mental disorder characterized by at least two weeks of low mood that is present across most situations. It is often accompanied by low self-esteem, loss of interest in normally enjoyable activities, low energy, and pain without a clear cause. People may also occasionally have false beliefs or see or hear things that others cannot. Some people have periods of depression separated by years in which they are normal, while others nearly always have symptoms present. Major depressive disorder can negatively affect a person’s personal life, work life, or education, as well as sleeping, eating habits, and general health. Between 2–8% of adults with major depression die by suicide, and about 50% of people who die by suicide had depression or another mood disorder.
What causes it?
The cause is believed to be a combination of genetic, environmental, and psychological factors. Risk factors include a family history of the condition, major life changes, certain medications, chronic health problems, and substance abuse. About 40% of the risk appears to be related to genetics. The diagnosis of major depressive disorder is based on the person’s reported experiences and a mental status examination. There is no laboratory test for major depression. Testing, however, may be done to rule out physical conditions that can cause similar symptoms. Major depression is more severe and lasts longer than sadness, which is a normal part of life.
What is the treatment?
Typically, people are treated with counselling and antidepressant medication. Medication appears to be effective, but the effect may only be significant in the most severely depressed. It is unclear whether medications affect the risk of suicide. Types of counseling used include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy.
Depression does not discriminate; it affects individuals of any age, gender, education level, socioeconomic status, and cultural background. When a person experiences depression can possibly affect every part of daily living – parenting, marriage, friendships, finances, careers, etc. It can be manageable though! By seeing a psychologist to receive prompt identification and treatment, a person can learn about depression, how it is affecting them, and ways to attempt to deal with the symptoms and difficulties.