For us humans, sadness comes as a natural part of ourselves. It’s normal for people to feel depressed and sad when going through a rough part of their lives. It’s not easy going through stressful events such as a divorce or loss of a loved one. But in most cases, these feelings go away shortly. However, people who have an intense and persistent feeling of sadness for longer time periods might suffer from MDD. What is major depressive disorder, or MDD?
This disorder is also characterized as a significant medical condition and is referred to as clinical depression. And it affects many areas of life and various physical functions such as sleep and appetite, as well as behavior and mood. Those who suffer from this disorder have trouble performing everyday activities, lose interest in their favorite activities, and sometimes feel like life isn’t worth living.
Unfortunately, there are people who don’t know that this disorder can be treated, and live like that every day. Most of those people would have gone better if they had psychotherapy, proper medications, or other successful symptom management methods.
What are the symptoms of major depressive disorder?
MDD diagnosis is based on the symptoms that affect behavior patterns and feelings. People who suspect having MDD are usually either asked certain questions or they have to fill out a questionnaire to determine if they have symptoms.
In order for someone to be diagnosed with major depressive disorder, the symptom criteria listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders have to be met. According to this manual’s criteria, 5 or more of the following symptoms have to be met and they have to be experienced at least once a day for a period of more than 2 weeks:
- Feeling of sadness or irritability most of the day, almost every day
- Less interest in most activities once enjoyed
- Sudden gain or loss of weight or changes in appetite
- Trouble falling asleep or the need to sleep more than usual
- Feelings of restlessness
- Lack of energy and the feeling of unusual tiredness
- Feeling of worthlessness or guiltiness, often about things that wouldn’t normally cause such feelings
- Difficulty with making decisions, thinking, or concentrating
- Thoughts of self-harm or suicide
Causes of major depressive disorder
The science doesn’t have an answer to the causes of a major depressive disorder. However, factors such as a combination of stress and genes create brain chemistry that changes the balance of hormones. This contributes to the development of MDD.
- There are also other triggers:
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Hypothyroidism or cancer
- Particular types of medications, steroids included
Major depressive disorder treatment
The usual treatment for major depressive disorder includes psychotherapy and medication. But certain lifestyle changes help ease certain symptoms as well. On the other hand, those with severe disorders or thoughts of harming themselves may need to stay in for hospital treatment. Additionally, an outpatient treatment program is needed if MDD symptoms don’t improve after psychotherapy and medication.
Often start treatment for MDD, prescribed by care providers are antidepressant medications, in most cases, it’s SSRIs (short for selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors). These antidepressants help inhibit the breakdown of serotonin in the brain. The result is higher amounts of this neurotransmitter, thus a happier state of mind.
Talk therapy, psychological therapy, or simply psychotherapy is an effective treatment for major depressive disorder. Psychotherapy includes meeting with a therapist on a regular basis is and talking about the condition and issues. This helps with:
- Adjusting to a crisis or stressful events
- Replacing negative behaviors and beliefs with healthy, positive ones
- Improving communication skills
- Find better ways for coping with challenges and solving problems
- Increasing self-esteem
- Regaining control of life and sense of satisfaction
Medication and talk therapy do most of the healing job, but positive changes in lifestyle help improve the major depressive disorder symptoms as well. When it comes to these changes, it comes down to:
- Eating right
- Getting plenty of exercises
- Sleeping well
And that’s it!