What Are The Symptoms Of Major Depressive Disorder
Your doctor or a mental health professional can diagnose major depressive disorder based on your symptoms, feelings, and behaviors.
Typically, youll be asked specific questions or given a questionnaire so health professionals can better determine whether you have MDD or another condition.
To be diagnosed with MDD, you need to meet the symptom criteria listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition . This manual helps medical professionals diagnose mental health conditions.
According to its criteria:
- you must experience a change in your previous functioning
- symptoms must occur for a period of 2 or more weeks
- at least one symptom is either depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure
You must also experience 5 or more of the following symptoms in the 2-week period:
- You feel sad or irritable most of the day, nearly every day.
- Youre less interested in most activities you once enjoyed.
- You suddenly lose or gain weight or have a change in appetite.
- You have trouble falling asleep or want to sleep more than usual.
- You experience feelings of restlessness.
- You feel unusually tired and have a lack of energy.
- You feel worthless or guilty, often about things that wouldnt usually make you feel that way.
- You have difficulty concentrating, thinking, or making decisions.
- You think about harming yourself or suicide.
Symptoms parents should be aware of in their teens include the following:
When Does Anxiety Need Treatment
While anxiety can cause distress, it is not always a medical condition.
When an individual faces potentially harmful or worrying triggers, feelings of anxiety are not only normal but necessary for survival.
Since the earliest days of humanity, the approach of predators and incoming danger sets off alarms in the body and allows evasive action. These alarms become noticeable in the form of a raised heartbeat, sweating, and increased sensitivity to surroundings.
The danger causes a rush of adrenalin, a hormone and chemical messenger in the brain, which in turn triggers these anxious reactions in a process called the fight-or-flight response. This prepares humans to physically confront or flee any potential threats to safety.
For many people, running from larger animals and imminent danger is a less pressing concern than it would have been for early humans. Anxieties now revolve around work, money, family life, health, and other crucial issues that demand a persons attention without necessarily requiring the fight-or-flight reaction.
The nervous feeling before an important life event or during a difficult situation is a natural echo of the original fight-or-flight reaction. It can still be essential to survival anxiety about being hit by a car when crossing the street, for example, means that a person will instinctively look both ways to avoid danger.
Anxiety disorders now include the following diagnoses.
Possible causes include:
Medical Cannabis Use May Improve Long
In a retrospective study of over 7000 adults, cannabis use improved depression and anxiety at 12 and 18 months in adults diagnosed with these conditions. The Canadian researchers who conducted the study published their findings in Psychiatry Research.
Compared with its use for chronic pain, the researchers stated that reliable evidence to support the use of cannabis to treat anxiety is lacking and available data are conflicting. To bring clarity to the issue, the researchers conducted a retrospective database study of Canadian medical cannabis patients. Patients received their cannabis from Harvest Medicine clinic, a network of specialty medical cannabis clinics across Canada.
Of the 7362 patients, 43.9% reported anxiety as the reason for using cannabis and 25.9% reported depression. The average age of the sample was 49.8. The group was fairly evenly divided between men and women .
The mean General Anxiety Disorder-7 score for patients with anxiety was 11.1 compared with 5.3 without anxiety. The scores for patients with anxiety went down over time with the most notable decreases taking place between 1 and 3 months after treatment and 2 years later.
Patients with depression reported a mean Patient Health Questionnaire score of 13.7 compared with 7.4 for those without depression. The most notable drop for patients with depression took place within the first 3 months of treatment.
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Does Depression Change Your Personality
Research has turned up mixed results about whether or not depression can actually change a persons personality.
However, according to of 10 studies, depressive symptoms may be associated with changes in several specific aspects of personality including extraversion, neuroticism, and agreeableness which could be temporary or persistent.
Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder
Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder is a condition that occurs in children and youth ages 6 to 18. It involves a chronic and severe irritability resulting in severe and frequent temper outbursts. The temper outbursts can be verbal or can involve behavior such as physical aggression toward people or property. These outbursts are significantly out of proportion to the situation and are not consistent with the childs developmental age. They must occur frequently and typically in response to frustration. In between the outbursts, the childs mood is persistently irritable or angry most of the day, nearly every day. This mood is noticeable by others, such as parents, teachers, and peers.
In order for a diagnosis of disruptive mood dysregulation disorder to be made, symptoms must be present for at least one year in at least two settings and the condition must begin before age 10. Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder is much more common in males than females. It may occur along with other disorders, including major depressive, attention-deficit/hyperactivity, anxiety, and conduct disorders.
Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder can have a significant impact on the childs ability to function and a significant impact on the family. Chronic, severe irritability and temper outbursts can disrupt family life, make it difficult for the child/youth to make or keep friendships, and cause difficulties at school.
Treatment typically involves and/or medications.
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Major Depressive Disorder With Seasonal Pattern
Previously known as seasonal affective disorder , this type of depression occurs during the winter and fall months, when there is less daylight. Less commonly, it may follow other seasonal patterns.
It lifts during the rest of the year and in response to light therapy.
This condition seems to particularly affect people who live in countries with long or severe winters.
The medical community does not fully understand the causes of depression. There are many possible causes, and sometimes, various factors combine to trigger symptoms.
Factors that are likely to play a role
How Is Depression Syndrome Diagnosed
Everyone may feel sad or down from time to time. However, clinical depression has more intense symptoms that last two weeks or longer.
To determine whether you have clinical depression, your healthcare provider will ask questions. You may complete a questionnaire and provide a family history. Your healthcare provider may also perform an exam or order lab tests to see if you have another medical condition.
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Beyond Treatment: Things You Can Do
Once you begin treatment, you should gradually start to feel better. Here are other tips that may help you or a loved one during treatment for depression:
- Try to get some physical activity. Just 30 minutes a day of walking can boost mood.
- Try to maintain a regular bedtime and wake-up time.
- Eat regular, healthy meals.
- Do what you can as you can. Decide what must get done and what can wait.
- Try to connect with other people, and talk with people you trust about how you are feeling.
- Postpone important decisions, such as getting married or divorced, or changing jobs until you feel better.
- Avoid using alcohol, nicotine, or drugs, including medications not prescribed for you.
What Causes Mood Disorders
Mood disorders have no single cause, but several risk factors interact to produce the clinical symptoms of the various mood disorders. Individuals with depression and bipolar disorder often find a history of these disorders among immediate family members.Footnote 3 ,Footnote 4 Many different genes may act together and in combination with other factors to cause a mood disorder. Research is getting closer to identifying the specific genes that contribute to depression.
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Try A Walk Around The Block
Physical activity can help naturally boost your mood by prompting the release of happy hormones in your brain.
That said, exercising when living with depression or anxiety can be a challenge. If youre able to exercise, it can help to start with small activities you can incorporate into your routine, such as:
- a walk around your neighborhood after dinner
- a weekend hike
What Is The Outlook For Someone With Major Depressive Disorder
While someone with MDD can feel hopeless at times, its important to remember that the disorder can be treated successfully. There is hope.
To improve your outlook, its critical to stick with your treatment plan. Dont miss therapy sessions or follow-up appointments with your healthcare professional.
Never stop taking your medications unless your therapist or healthcare professional advises you to.
A friendly, supportive voice could be just what you need to get you through a difficult time.
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General Signs And Symptoms
Not everyone with depression will experience the same symptoms. Symptoms can vary in severity, how often they happen, and how long they last.
If you experience some of the following signs and of depression nearly every day for at least 2 weeks, you may be living with depression:
- feeling sad, anxious, or empty
- feeling hopeless, worthless, and pessimistic
- crying a lot
Males may experience symptoms related to their:
- mood, such as anger, aggressiveness, irritability, anxiousness, or restlessness
- emotional well-being, such as feeling empty, sad, or hopeless
- behavior, such as loss of interest, no longer finding pleasure in favorite activities, feeling tired easily, thoughts of suicide, drinking excessively, using drugs, or engaging in high-risk activities
- sexual interest, such as reduced sexual desire or lack of sexual performance
- cognitive abilities, such as inability to concentrate, difficulty completing tasks, or delayed responses during conversations
- sleep patterns, such as insomnia, restless sleep, excessive sleepiness, or not sleeping through the night
- physical well-being, such as fatigue, pains, headache, or digestive problems
Females may experience symptoms related to their:
Children may experience
Common causes include:
You may successfully manage symptoms with one form of treatment, or you may find that a combination of treatments works best.
Seek Support For Symptoms Of Depression
Depression is often not recognised and can go on for months or even years if left untreated. Its important to seek support as early as possible, as the sooner a person gets treatment, the sooner they can recover.
Untreated depression can have many negative effects on a persons life, including serious relationship and family problems, difficulty finding and holding down a job, and drug and alcohol problems.
There is no one proven way that people recover from depression. However, there is a range of effective treatments and health professionals who can help people on the road to recovery.
There are also many things that people with depression can do for themselves to help them recover and stay well. The important thing is to find the right treatment and the right health professional for a persons needs.
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Life Events And Depression
Research suggests that continuing difficulties, such as long-term unemployment, living in an abusive or uncaring relationship, long-term isolation or loneliness or prolonged exposure to stress at work can increase the risk of depression.
Significant adverse life events, such as losing a job, going through a separation or divorce, or being diagnosed with a serious illness, may also trigger depression, particularly among people who are already at risk because of genetic, developmental or other personal factors.
Make Time For Rest And Relaxation
Mental health conditions like depression and anxiety can affect your energy and motivation, which often only adds to feelings of guilt and worry.
Remember, though: Depression and anxiety are health conditions. If you had the flu, youd need time to rest, right? Mental health symptoms require recovery time, too.
Instead of fixating on the things you think you should be doing, honor your needs by taking time for activities that soothe and relax you. Maybe this includes things like:
- watching a comforting movie or TV show
- re-reading a favorite book
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Antenatal And Postnatal Depression
Women are at an increased risk of depression during pregnancy and in the year following childbirth . This time frame may also be referred to as the perinatal period.
The causes of depression at this time can be complex and are often the result of a combination of factors. In the days immediately following birth, many women experience the baby blues, which is a common condition related to hormonal changes, affecting up to 80 per cent of women who have given birth.
The baby blues, or the general stress of adjusting to pregnancy or a new baby, are common experiences, but are different from depression.
Depression is longer lasting and can affect not only the mother, but her relationship with her baby, the childs development, the mothers relationship with her partner and with other members of the family.
Up to one in 10 women will experience depression during pregnancy. This increases to 16 per cent in the first three months after having a baby.
What About Treatments For Anxiety And Depression
Just as there are many different experiences of anxiety and depression, there are a variety of options for treatments and coping techniques to help manage symptoms. The recommendations in this section take an integrative mental health approach, which incorporates health-promoting lifestyle changes evidence-based holistic therapies and healing practices and mainstream interventions, including psychosocial therapies and the judicious use of prescription medication. We cover each of these areas in detail–click the links or see the menu on the left for more information.
Note that some of the treatments for depression and anxiety overlap, so it is beneficial to learn about both disorders.
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Who Is At Risk For Depression
Depression can affect anyone, no matter their age, gender or circumstances. About 16 million Americans experience depression each year.
Women may experience depression more often than men. And your genetics or other health conditions can increase the likelihood that youll have at least one depressive episode in your lifetime.
Are There Different Types Of Depression
If you are given a diagnosis of depression, you might be told that you have mild, moderate or severe depression. This describes what sort of impact your symptoms are having on you currently, and what sort of treatment you’re likely to be offered. You might move between mild, moderate and severe depression during one episode of depression or across different episodes.
There are also some specific types of depression:
- Seasonal affective disorder depression that occurs at a particular time of year, or during a particular season. See our page on SAD for more information.
- Dysthymia continuous mild depression that lasts for two years or more. Also called persistent depressive disorder or chronic depression.
- Prenatal depression depression that occurs during pregnancy. This is sometimes also called antenatal depression.
- Postnatal depression depression that occurs in the first year after giving birth.
See our page on postnatal depression and perinatal mental health for more information. The PANDAS Foundation also has information and support for anyone experiencing prenatal or postnatal depression.
Is premenstrual dysphoric disorder a type of depression?
PMDD is a severe form of premenstrual syndrome . Many women experience PMS, but for some women their symptoms are severe enough to seriously impact their daily life. This is when you might receive a diagnosis of PMDD.
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Risk Factors For Depression
Depression can affect anyoneeven a person who appears to live in relatively ideal circumstances.
Several factors can play a role in depression:
- Biochemistry: Differences in certain chemicals in the brain may contribute to symptoms of depression.
- Genetics: Depression can run in families. For example, if one identical twin has depression, the other has a 70 percent chance of having the illness sometime in life.
- Personality: People with low self-esteem, who are easily overwhelmed by stress, or who are generally pessimistic appear to be more likely to experience depression.
- Environmental factors: Continuous exposure to violence, neglect, abuse or poverty may make some people more vulnerable to depression.
Depression And Suicide Risk
Depression usually does not lead to suicide ideation. But, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services, studies have shown that about two percent of people who have been treated for depression in an outpatient setting will die by suicide. If the treatment is inpatient, the number doubles to four percent. Men are more likely to die by suicide after depression than women. Find hotlines and organizations for support in our .
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When Does Low Mood Become Depression
We all have times when our mood is low, and we’re feeling sad or miserable about life. Usually these feelings pass in due course.
But if the feelings are interfering with your life and don’t go away after a couple of weeks, or if they come back over and over again for a few days at a time, it could be a sign that you’re experiencing depression. See our page on the symptoms of depression for more information.