Major Depressive Disorder: What Is It?

Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a mental health condition characterized by persistent feelings of sadness and emptiness. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, MDD affects about 6.7 percent of adults in the U.S. each year. While anyone can experience symptoms of MDD, it is more common in women than men. If left untreated, MDD can be debilitating and lead to serious health complications. However, with the right treatment plan, most people with MDD can recover fully. In this post, we’ll explore the symptoms and treatment options for major depressive disorder.

Is MMD dangerous?

Major depressive disorder can be a very serious condition. It can cause people to lose interest in activities they once enjoyed, to experience problems with sleeping and eating, and to feel down, hopeless, or irritable much of the time. In some cases, major depressive disorder can lead to thoughts of suicide or self-harm.

It’s important to seek treatment for major depressive disorder if you think you may be experiencing it. Treatment usually involves counseling and medication, and can help people manage their symptoms and live healthier lives.

What Is Major Depressive Disorder?

Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a mental disorder characterized by periods of feeling extremely low and hopeless, accompanied by lack of energy and interest in usual activities. These depressive episodes can happen once or several times throughout one’s life. MDD is a serious condition that can lead to disabilities if not treated properly.

MDD, or depressive illness, is a mental condition characterized by at least two weeks of persistent low mood, low self-esteem, and loss of interest or pleasure in previously enjoyable activities. Hallucinations, delusions, and sleep issues are all possible symptoms. The phrase was coined by a group of US physicians in the 1970s and entered into use by the American Psychiatric Association to refer to this symptom cluster under mood disorders in the 1980 version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III). Since then, it has become quite popular.

Symptoms of Major Depressive Disorder:

Depression is a serious illness that significantly influences one’s family and personal relationships, job or school life, sleeping and eating habits, and general health. A person who is experiencing a major depressive episode typically has a low mood that pervades all aspects of life as well as an inability to experience pleasure in previously pleasurable activities. People who are depressed may be preoccupied with, or ruminate over, worthless thoughts and emotions, inappropriate guilt or regret, helplessness or hopelessness.

Other symptoms of depression include a lack of attention and memory, social withdrawal, sexual apathy, irritability, and thoughts of death or suicide. Insomnia is common; in the typical scenario, a person rises early but can’t fall back asleep. Oversleeping (hypersomnia) is also possible. Because of their stimulating activity, some antidepressants can induce sleeplessness. In severe cases, people who are depressed may display psychotic symptoms. Delusions or, less frequently, hallucinations are the most common types of mental illness. People who have previously experienced psychotic symptoms are more likely to experience them again.

Bodiesymptoms, such as tiredness, headaches, and digestive issues, are the most typical presenting issue in developing nations, according to the World Health Organization’s criteria for depression. Appetite may go down, leading to weight loss, although increased hunger and weight gain are also common. Family and friends may notice restlessness or lethargy. Older persons who are depressed may experience cognitive symptoms of recent onset, such as forgetfulness and a more apparent slowing of activities.

Depressed youngsters frequently manifest an irritated, rather than sad, demeanor; most drop out of school and have a significant drop in academic performance. When symptoms are interpreted as “normal moodiness,” diagnosis might be delayed or missed.

Causes of Major Depressive Disorder:

The biopsychosocial model proposes that biological, psychological, and social factors all play a role in causing major depressive disorder. There are many biological factors that can contribute to depression, including but not limited to:

  • Abnormal levels of neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine
  • Hormonal changes, such as those that occur during menopause or after giving birth
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Chronic stress or exposure to traumatic events
  • Brain structure abnormalities

There are many psychological factors that can lead to major depressive disorder, including genetics, life events, and personality traits. Some of the most common psychological factors that contribute to depression include:

  • Low self-esteem or negative self-image
  • Feeling helpless or powerless
  • Perceived lack of control over one’s life
  • Negative thoughts or attitudes about oneself, others, or the world in general
  • “Rumination” (frequently dwelling on negative thoughts or memories)
  • Lack of social support/isolation
  • Lack of meaningful purpose or meaning in life

It’s hard to isolate a single social factor that causes depression, as the condition is likely caused by a complex interaction of environmental and genetic factors. However, some of the most commonly cited social factors that contribute to depression include poverty, unemployment, social isolation, and abuse.

Depression is also more common in societies where there is a high level of inequality. People who experience discrimination or who feel marginalized are also at an increased risk for depression. Additionally, people who have low self-esteem or who are perfectionists may be more prone to developing depression in response to stressful life events.


There are a number of treatment options for major depressive disorder (MDD), including medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes.


There are a few ways that medication can help with major depressive disorder. The most common type of medication used to treat depression is called an antidepressant. Antidepressants work by balancing out the chemicals in your brain that may be contributing to your depression.

Another type of medication that may be used to treat depression is called a mood stabilizer. Mood stabilizers help to keep your mood more stable and can help lessen the symptoms of bipolar disorder. There are also medications called antipsychotics that can be used to help treat people with severe depression who have psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations or delusions.


Therapy is thought to help with major depressive disorder in a few ways. First, it can provide some relief from the isolation and loneliness that often accompanies depression. Second, therapy can help people change the negative thoughts and beliefs that contribute to their depression. Finally, therapy can provide support and guidance through the challenging process of recovering from depression.

Lifestyle Changes:

There is a fair amount of evidence that lifestyle changes can help with major depressive disorder. Some studies have shown that exercise, meditation, and cognitive behavioral therapy can be as effective as medication in treating depression.

One possible reason why lifestyle changes may help with depression is because they help to increase levels of serotonin and dopamine. These neurotransmitters are often depleted in people with depression. Additionally, lifestyle changes can help to improve sleep quality and reduce stress, both of which are known to contribute to depression.

Last Updated on December 9, 2022 by Lucas Berg


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