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What Are Major Depressive Episodes

Severity Of Major Depressive Episodes

Major Depressive Episodes in a Minute

An episode of Major Depression is considered severe if the person is experiencing all or nearly all of the possible symptoms described above and is greatly impaired in their ability to function at work, at school or in social situations. A mild episode is one where a minimum number of symptoms are experienced, and the person’s level of functioning is impaired in a minor way. An episode of moderate severity falls somewhere between these two extremes.

What Triggers Major Depression

Some common triggers or causes of major depression include:

  • Loss of a loved one through death, divorce, or separation
  • Social isolation or feelings of being deprived
  • Major life changes — moving, graduation, job change, retirement
  • Personal conflicts in relationships, either with a significant other or a superior
  • Physical, sexual, or emotional abuse

With Treatment How Long Does It Take To Overcome Depression

When I started my treatment, I started with therapy alone, so things were slow going.

However, once I got on antidepressants, I started to notice things moving in the right direction. The antidepressants brought me to a place that allowed me to focus better on my therapy treatment, so the two forms of treatment worked well together.

While I still experience on and off symptoms of depression, I feel that after one year of treatment, my life is finally at a point where I am feeling more like a normal person. The feelings of sadness and hopelessness are significantly reduced, I am performing well at work again and I am able to enjoy my time with my friends.

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Recognize The Importance Of Self

Self-care is essential for good physical and mental health. Self-care activities are any actions that help people look after their wellbeing.

Self-care means taking time to relax, recharge, and connect with the self and others. It also means saying no to others when overwhelmed and taking space to calm and soothe oneself.

Basic self-care activities include eating a healthful diet, engaging in creative activities, and taking a soothing bath. But any action that enhances mental, emotional, and physical health can be considered a self-care activity.

Change In Eating Appetite Or Weight

Major Depressive Episodes Common Among Teens

In a major depressive episode, appetite is most often decreased, although a small percentage of people experience an increase in appetite. A person experiencing a depressive episode may have a marked loss or gain of weight . A decrease in appetite may result in weight loss that is unintentional or when a person is not dieting. Some people experience an increase in appetite and may gain significant amounts of weight. They may crave certain types of food, such as sweets or carbohydrates. In children, failure to make expected weight gains may be counted towards this criteria. Overeating is often associated with atypical depression.

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What Is The Treatment For A Depressive Episode

How do you get out of a depressive episode? Treatment is always customized based on what your mental health needs are at that time.

If youre facing an emergency situation such as having thoughts of hurting yourself, call 911 right away. Do not wait for anyone else to be available.

Your doctor will be able to help you as an initial step. If youve never been diagnosed with depression before, this generally will include an exam, lab tests, and a psychiatric evaluation. During this exam, your doctors and therapists determine if you have the symptoms for the classification of depression or a major depressive episode. They also determine what type of depression you have.

Treatment for an episode depends on whats occurring. You may need to begin taking antidepressant medications. These medications can help to balance hormones and chemicals in the brain to ensure you have fewer episodes. Getting the right treatment can take some time.

Most people also benefit from psychotherapy. This includes talking to a therapist about whats happening and developing strategies for dealing with triggers in your life. A key goal is to identify the negative beliefs you have and working through your feelings. Youll also learn how to set realistic goals, develop a higher level of tolerance for distress and work to improve relationships.

Some people also benefit from holistic therapy as a complement to psychotherapy. This may include nutrition counseling and yoga, for example.

What Constitutes A Depressive Episode

Mental Health Education » What Constitutes a Depressive Episode?

Depression affects individuals of all ages and parts of the population. Its adverse symptoms are known to cause harmful effects to ones well-being, hindering their ability to lead a healthy, happy life. A diagnosis of depression is based first and foremost on the appearance of depressive episodesbut what is a depressive episode? And how is it different from other aspects of this disorder? Read on to find out.

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Frequently Asked Questionswhat Is Depression

Major Depression, also known as clinical or unipolar depression, is one of the most common mental illnesses. Over 9 million American adults suffer from clinical depression each year. This estimate is likely to be higher since depression commonly remains undiagnosed and untreated in a large percentage of the U.S. population. Major Depression is more than a temporary state of feeling sad rather, it is a persistent state that can significantly impair an individual’s thoughts, behavior, daily activities, and physical health.

Major Depressive Disorder impacts all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups and can occur at any age. The average lifetime prevalence of depression is 17%: 26% for women and 12% for men. The mean age for a first episode is in the thirties. Demographic differences show that rates are higher in urban rather than in rural areas. No racial significance has been noted. Along gender lines, women suffer from depression at twice the rate of men. Statistics have shown that one out of every seven women will experience at least one depressive episode in their lifetime. This gender difference is best explained by looking at the interplay between biological, genetic, psychological, social, and environmental factors.


1. depressed mood experienced most of the day, nearly every day

2. diminished interest or pleasure in all or almost all activities most of the day, nearly every day

3. significant change in appetite or weight

Coping Skills For Episodes Of Depression

3 Kinds of Depressive Episodes

Coping skills are mental and physical tools that can help you meet the demands of lifes challenges. They may help you deal with the situations that affect you most.

Coping skills arent in-the-moment tools you use to boost your mood. Instead, they can become long-term resources to handle the challenges you might face.

When it comes to the challenge of depression, coping skills arent intended as a form of treatment. They can, however, help you manage your symptoms on a regular basis so you can continue functioning in the world.

Coping skills for depression include:

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Psychosis And Catatonia In Depressive Episodes

Psychosis can sometimes occur as part of a Major Depressive Episode. This is referred to a Major Depressive Episode with Psychotic Features, and is a severe form of an episode.

When these psychotic features have themes that fit with the emotional tones of a Depression, they are labelled as being mood-congruent. An example of this would be nihilistic delusions. On the other hand, when the psychotic features do not seem to be related to the emotional tones of the Depression, they are called mood-incongruent.

Catatonia is another severe reaction that can happen in very rare cases as part of a Major Depressive Episode.

Paying Attention To Nutrition

Become more self-aware about providing your body with the proper nutrition and hydration it needs, Weiss suggests. If your body lacks certain nutrients, this could potentially be feeding your depressive feelings.

You could start by limiting sugar intake and increasing consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables when possible.

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When To Call Your Healthcare Provider

If you have 5 or more of these symptoms for at least 2 weeks, call your healthcare provider:

  • Lasting sad, anxious, or empty mood

  • Loss of interest in almost all activities

  • Appetite and weight changes

  • Changes in sleep patterns, such as inability to sleep or sleeping too much

  • Slowing of physical activity, speech, and thinking OR agitation, increased restlessness, and irritability

  • Ongoing feelings of worthlessness and/or feelings of undue guilt

  • Trouble concentrating or making decisions

  • Repeating thoughts of death or suicide, wishing to die, or attempting suicide

What Is The Outlook For Someone With Major Depressive Disorder

What is a depressive episode and 12 tips for dealing with one

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.

On days when you feel particularly depressed despite treatment, it can be helpful to call a local crisis or mental health service or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Resources are available.

A friendly, supportive voice could be just what you need to get you through a difficult time.

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Depressive Episodes Vs Sadness

Like grief, depressive episodes are often linked to sadness. An emotional pain marked by feelings of longing or lacking, sadness can sometimes be hard to distinguish from the characteristics of a depressive episode.

But despite their similarities, depressive episodes are distinct from moments of sadness. For starters, sadness, like mourning, is not considered a mental health disorder, but a part of life.

Secondly, sadness usually lasts for much longer periods of time, compared to the minimum two-week requirements for a depressive episode diagnosis.

Sadness also lasts for a much shorter part of each day, as opposed to a depressive episode, which can last most and even the entirety of ones day.

Finally, while a depressive episode is considered a mental health issue due to the intensity of its symptoms and their detrimental effect on an individuals quality of life or daily functioning, sadness is a less severe experience, and normally passes without leaving a significant impact on ones well-being.

Bipolar Disorder Depression Major Depressive Episodes And Mixed Episodes

Major depressive episodes are characterized by five or more of the following symptoms, all of which must be present in a more or less uninterrupted manner for at least a two week period:

  • A pervasive depressed mood that colors and tones daily experience
  • A diminished ability to take pleasure from activities that used to be pleasurable
  • Appetite changes , which may be accompanied by weight loss or gain.
  • Sleep changes
  • Psychomotor agitation or retardation either can’t sit still, or can hardly move.
  • Constant complaints of fatigue and low energy
  • Thoughts of the affected person’s worthlessness, guilt or shame plague him or her
  • Concentration becomes more difficult to achieve than before
  • Thoughts of the desirability of death and suicide

There is no corollary to a hypomanic episode for depression no short-term “hypodepressive” episode that can be diagnosed. There is a related condition known as Dysthymic Disorder or Dysthymia, which describes a long-lasting mild depression. Dysthymia cannot be diagnosed at the same time as bipolar disorder, however, because in order to qualify for a diagnosis of Dysthymia, you have to show evidence of consistently mild depressive symptoms occurring more days than not over a period of at least two years. The presence of manic or hypomanic episodes during the two year period would disqualify any dysthymic disorder diagnosis.

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Warning Signs Of Major Depression

Heres what to look out for in people you love .

1. Not caring about the things that used to excite you. If you havent bothered to tune in to The Mandalorian yet even though you were president of your local Boba Fett fan club and have watched every Star Wars movie 10 times, thats a warning sign. Used to be an avid vegan chef and yogi but now youre into lying on the couch eating potato chips? Thats another check mark.

2.Transforming into a Negative Nancy/ Ned/ Nat. If your first reaction to any question is to just say noand you can think of five reasons why everything will go wrong in every situationMDD is a possibility. Research shows that people with major depressive disorder generally have a more negative view of the future.

3.Avoiding your friends and family. Do you find yourself ducking social situations because you feel like you just cant muster the energy to hold up your end of a conversation or even smile and pretend youre having a good time? People with depression tend to socially isolate themselves, which studies say is twice as harmful to physical and mental health as obesity.

4.A change in your eating habits. Do you notice feeling hungrier or weighing more ? Some people with depression turn to food for comfort, while others lose their appetite because they feel numb or apathetic. Plus, studies have found that excess fat is linked to increased inflammation, which could play a part in causing depression in the first place.

How Can I Help Someone With Major Depression

Major Depressive Episode Self-Care Strategies | HealthyPlace

People with depression might not acknowledge that theyre struggling. Lack of awareness about symptoms of depression can cause people to consider their feelings normal or dismiss them as a time-limited struggle. The stigma of seeking treatment for depression can also cause people to attempt to overcome treatment without professional help. One of the best ways you can help a loved one is to become educated about the symptoms, causes, and treatment for MDD and encourage them to work with a doctor or mental health counselor. Be a compassionate listener and avoid giving unhelpful advice like,“This is just a phase, it will pass.” Another way you can help is to offer to assist with daily tasks and recognize and respond to a crisis. If you believe your loved one is in danger of harming themselves, do not leave them alone. Dial 9-1-1 and stay with them until help arrives.

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Diagnosis Of A Depressive Episode

After taking the affected personââ¬â¢s medical history and performing a physical examination, a doctor or the mental health specialist to which the person is referred to, can diagnose a depressive episode based on the criteria set out in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition .

A major depressive episode is characterized by five or more of the following symptoms being present every day, or almost every day, for a minimum of two weeks:

  • Depressed mood for most of the day
  • Loss of interest or enjoyment in all or most activities
  • Significant unexplained weight loss or gain, or appetite changes
  • Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Restlessness or sluggishness
  • Tiredness or lack of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt
  • Difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions
  • Thoughts of death or suicide ââ¬â there may be suicide plans or suicide attempts

These symptoms should indicate a marked difference from the affected personââ¬â¢s previous functioning. For the diagnosis to be made, at least one of the symptoms needs to be depressed mood or loss of interest in most activities. It is also necessary for the symptoms to cause significant distress or impairment in social and job functioning.

If the symptoms are attributed to another mental health condition, the diagnosis and treatment may be different to that detailed here for a depressive episode.

How To Combat Major Depressive Disorder

Sometimes medication can help teens who are experiencing a severe major depressive episode. However, studies show that clinical and holistic methods can be equally or more effective than antidepressant medication. In addition, such methods bolster teen mental health and ward off major depressive episodes. These include the following evidence-based approaches.

Clinical therapy modalities: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and interpersonal psychotherapy are proven to be effective in treating depression in adolescents.

Exercise: In one 11-year study of 33,908 adults, researchers found that just one hour of exercise each week prevented 12 percent of depression cases. Moreover, another study found that only 30 minutes of exercise three times per week was as effective as antidepressant drugs.

Nutrition: The meal can be medicine. In other words, diet is a powerful method for relieving teen depression. In one trial study, one-third of participants experienced remission from depressive symptoms after three months of a healthy diet.

Mindfulness practice: A review study at Johns Hopkins found that meditation is just as effective as medication for teenage anxiety and depression. Meditation reduces depression by calming the nervous system and reducing wandering mind, which is associated with unhappiness.

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Clin Psych Sci. 2017 Nov:317.

BMC Med. 2017 Jan 30 15:23.

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Prevalence Of Major Depressive Episode Among Adolescents

  • Figure 2 shows the past year prevalence of major depressive episode among U.S. adolescents in 2019.
  • An estimated 3.8 million adolescents aged 12 to 17 in the United States had at least one major depressive episode. This number represented 15.7% of the U.S. population aged 12 to 17.
  • The prevalence of major depressive episode was higher among adolescent females compared to males .
  • The prevalence of major depressive episode was highest among adolescents reporting two or more races .

Figure 2

Persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race all other racial/ethnic groups are non-Hispanic | AI/AN = American Indian/Alaska Native. Note: Estimates for Native Hawaiian / Other Pacific Islander groups are not reported in the above table due to low precision.

2 or more Races 20.9

*Persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race all other racial/ethnic groups are non-Hispanic | AI/AN = American Indian/Alaska Native.Note: Estimates for Native Hawaiian / Other Pacific Islander groups are not reported in the above table due to low precision.

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