Major depressive disorder is the clinical name for depression. Also referred to as MDD, depression is a serious mental health condition that impacts mood and behavior. If left untreated, depression can significantly impact the physical and psychological well-being of an individual.
Depression is one of the most common mental health conditions in the United States. Major depressive disorder is estimated to affect over 17 million adults in the United States, which equals around 7% of the nation’s population.
The effects of depression can cause both mental and physical effects. Over time, depression can become a major disruptive force in a person’s life. Major depressive disorder often causes people to isolate themselves from their loved ones, which can only make symptoms worse.
Despite the severity of the condition, many people suffering from major depressive disorder never seek treatment. This could partially be because they are embarrassed or feel that there is a stigma around depression. They are potentially in denial about the seriousness and dangers associated with their condition.
There is no cure for depression, but it is considered to be treatable. Major depressive disorder can affect each person differently. While some people may only experience one major depressive episode in their lifetime, others may experience chronic bouts of depression. Either way, a person should seek treatment any time they are experiencing symptoms associated with depression.
The primary symptom of major depressive disorder is a constant feeling of sadness or hopelessness. Any time someone is experiencing sadness that seemingly won’t go away, they are probably suffering through some level of depression and could likely benefit from some type of treatment. Depression also causes a variety of other symptoms, both physical and emotional.
People suffering from major depressive disorder usually experience drastic changes to their eating or sleeping habits. In both cases, the variance may depend on the person. Some people find it challenging to sleep during depression, while others seemingly can do nothing but sleep. The same goes for eating and weight gain or loss.
Someone with major depressive disorder will often feel weary or tired. These feelings can also present themselves as irritability or anger. It is often difficult for people with depression to concentrate for extended periods or think things through thoroughly.
Extended depression can lead to some people attempting to deal with the problem themselves through self-medication. More often than not, this process can lead to substance dependency and addiction. Alcohol and other illicit substances often only make the symptoms associated with depression worse.
The most dangerous symptoms associated with depression are suicidal thoughts and tendencies. Major depressive disorder can cause feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness. Some people may contemplate taking their own lives as a result of their depression. Anyone experiencing any level of thoughts about suicide must seek the immediate help of a medical professional.
While sadness may be an aspect of ordinary life from time to time, the symptoms associated with depression are persistent. A diagnosis of major depressive disorder requires symptoms to be consistent over the course of at least two weeks, although many experience symptoms for months or years without treatment.
There is no single cause of all depression. Instead, major depressive disorder can be caused by a variety of different factors. Biological, environmental, and psychological risk factors can all contribute to the development of depression.
Endorphins such as dopamine and serotonin being released in the brain can cause happiness and euphoric effects. Some people with depression may have a change in their brain chemistry or functions that limit the release of these endorphins, preventing more positive emotions from occurring.
The risk of developing major depressive disorder is higher for people who have a close family member who also suffers from depression. However, research remains unclear whether this is a genetic trait or a behavior that can possibly be learned.
The symptoms associated with major depressive disorder usually first begin to appear in early adulthood. However, it is possible for anyone to experience depression. Children who experience trauma, abuse, or bullying may develop major depressive disorder at an age far younger than what is considered average.
Research suggests that women are twice as likely to develop major depressive disorder than men are. While depression can affect anyone, women may face additional risk factors due to hormonal changes that men do not experience. Events such as puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, miscarriages, or menopause can cause drastic hormonal changes in the body that could lead to depression.
Depending on the severity of the condition, major depressive disorder is often treated through a combination of psychotherapy and medication. Various talk therapy options, such as cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy, can be helpful in coping with major depressive disorder.
Numerous antidepressant drugs exist to treat symptoms associated with depression. Depending on the situation and individual patient, a doctor may prescribe SSRIs, SNRIs, tricyclics, MAOIs, or various other medications to treat specific symptoms. Due to the sheer number of different antidepressants available, it may take time for your doctor to find the best one to suit your needs.
Although medications can be immensely beneficial in treating symptoms associated with depression, they also should not be considered a cure for the disorder. Any prescribed medications are best viewed as one aspect of a broader treatment plan that includes psychotherapy.
At AM Health Care, we are to help you deal with your mental health in any way possible. We believe in designing a treatment plan that precisely suits your condition and your needs. Mental health disorders can be disruptive and potentially dangerous when left untreated, so there is no reason to wait any longer. Please call us today at 818-383-1297 to learn more about how we can help you and potential treatment options.