Types of Depression: Major Depression Disorder

When it comes to depression, there are many acute types. Major depression, also known as clinical depression or Major Depression Disorder (MDD), can come with a sense of hopelessness and despair. When an individual is experiencing major depression, it may be difficult to perform everyday tasks, such as working, sleeping, eating, and enjoying social activities. Some people may experience major depression once in their life, but others may have episodes or bouts several times during the course of their lives. 

What Is Major or Clinical Depression?

Many people can feel “low in mood” at points in their lives, but major or clinical depression is marked by a feeling of depression during most times of the day. Symptoms that are present every day for at least 2 weeks, such as a loss of interest in normal activities or relationships, can be a sign of MDD. Some symptoms may include:

  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness almost every day. 
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia (excessive sleeping). 
  • Fatigue or loss of energy. 
  • Recurring thoughts of suicide or death. 
  • Reduced interest or pleasure in almost every activity (also known as anhedonia). 
  • Impaired concentration or indecisiveness. 
  • Restlessness or feeling slow or sluggish. 
  • Significant weight loss or weight gain.

Who Is at Risk of MDD?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, clinical or major depression can affect approximately 6.7% of anyone in the United States over the age of 18, and approximately 20% to 25% of adults may experience an episode of major depression. 

Major depression can pose a risk to all ages, including older adults, teenagers, and even children. However, these groups are not always diagnosed.

Signs of Major Depression in Women

Almost double the amount of women can have clinical depression as men. Some of the signs of clinical depression in women include hormonal changes, such as during menstruation, puberty, pregnancy, menopause, and miscarriage. Additionally, external factors such as stress at home or work, balancing career and family life, or caring for an older parent can contribute to the risks. 

Signs of Clinical Depression in Men

Males who suffer from clinical depression are less likely to seek support or even talk about their experiences. Some of the signs of major depression in men may include alcohol or substance abuse, anger, and irritability. It’s important to note that any form of substance abuse can also cause depression rather than be a by-product of it. Additionally, men who suppress negative feelings can end up displaying violent behavior directed outwardly and inwardly, as well as an increased risk of illness, homicide, or suicide.

What Are the Signs of Depression in Older Adults?

Older adults can potentially be missed out on support with a diagnosis of clinical depression in addition to many depressed older adults failing to recognize the symptoms. Some people believe that depression is a part of aging or may not understand that the physical issues are signs of depression, such as fatigue. 

Some of the signs of depression in older adults can include lack of interest in socializing, weight loss or lack of appetite, lack of motivation, sleep disturbances, and loss of self-worth. Additionally, they may experience feelings of despair or sadness, memory problems, increased use of substances like alcohol, as well as fixations on death or suicide.

Signs of Major Depression in Younger Adults

It’s also important to note that depression is not exclusive to adults, children and young people can also have symptoms of clinical depression. It can be frequently misdiagnosed or ignored as growing pains or part and parcel of being a young person. However, the longer it goes on, the more likely it is to distract their lives and turn into a long-term problem. Signs of major depression in children and young people can include being irritable or grumpy, being disinterested in things they used to enjoy, a persistent low mood, and feeling tired and exhausted most of the time. Additionally, they may not be able to relax, interact less with family and friends, be indecisive, unable to concentrate, and either have thoughts about self-harm or suicide or perform acts of self-harm, such as taking an overdose or cutting their skin.

What Triggers Depression?

Depression can arise from specific triggers. Some of the most common causes or triggers of clinical or major depression can include: 

  • Physical, sexual, or emotional abuse. 
  • Social isolation or feeling deprived. 
  • Life changes, such as changing a job, retirement, moving home, or graduating. 
  • Conflict of a personal nature, such as with a significant other or superior in a working environment. 
  • Loss of a loved one, either through divorce, separation, or death.

How Is Depression Diagnosed?

The process of diagnosing major depression is done via a health professional. A psychiatrist or primary care doctor will perform a thorough medical evaluation and the person experiencing the depression may also receive a screening when making a regular visit to the doctor. 

The process of diagnosing it usually involves the health professional asking about family or personal psychiatric history, and asking questions that aim to highlight the common symptoms of major depression. 

While there are no laboratory tests like X-rays or blood tests to diagnose major depression, the doctor may run blood tests to detect any medical problems that have similar symptoms to depression. For example, alcohol or drug abuse, medication misuse, or hyperthyroidism, which can cause some of the same symptoms as depression.

How Depression Is Treated

Clinical or major depression is a serious illness, but a treatable one. Depending on the symptoms, a psychiatrist or a primary care doctor may recommend a course of treatment, such as antidepressant medication, as well as other therapies either as the primary treatment or complementary to the antidepressants. These may include talking therapies, also known as psychotherapy, where the person experiencing the depression has the opportunity to address their emotional state. 

Treating major or clinical depression may involve a combination of methods including antidepressants and talk therapy. It might be necessary for the doctor to try different doses of medication to determine the relevant medicine for the individual. Medications can include Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), which is a frequently prescribed type of antidepressant that works by inhibiting the breakdown of serotonin within the brain, which may help improve the mood of the individual. As people with MDD are often thought to have low levels of serotonin, the SSRI can relieve symptoms by increasing the amount of serotonin in the brain. 

There are also other medications, such as tricyclic antidepressants, which may be used when other medications do not help. However, it’s important to note that these drugs can cause a number of side effects, including sleepiness and weight gain. 

Psychotherapy can also effectively treat people with clinical or major depression, and can help the individual with the following:

  • Adjust to a stressful event or a crisis in their lives. 
  • Improve communication skills. 
  • Increase self-esteem. 
  • Find better ways of coping strategies to deal with problems and challenges. 
  • Work towards a balanced perspective and react according to values rather than the mood or mindset of the individual. 
  • Regain a sense of control and satisfaction in life.

It’s also important to remember that when treating MDD, changes to daily habits and lifestyle can also improve the symptoms, such as altering their diet, getting better quality sleep, exercising, and avoiding alcohol, as alcohol and substances can act as a depressant, which worsens the symptoms.

Peaks Recovery Can Provide Mental Health Treatment

Anyone experiencing major clinical depression can despair and feel hopeless at times. It’s important to remember that anybody experiencing symptoms or going through a major depressive episode can recover. For anybody who is looking for help and support, it’s crucial to go to a health professional to work through the concerns and have a treatment plan. 

There are times when everybody feels particularly depressed, despite the level of treatment. In these moments, it helps to call a local crisis or mental health service, and for those who are concerned their lifestyle is not helping them improve their outlook, there is professional help in the form of Peaks Recovery

Addiction and depression can coexist. Depression and/or clinical depression is a common but serious mood disorder that can affect how you think and feel, and hinder your ability to perform daily activities. If you or someone you care about is trying to overcome clinical depression and is experiencing addictive behaviors, you can reach out to Peaks Recovery. We have a Dual Diagnosis Treatment Center that can work towards a satisfactory resolution to any form of major or clinical depression. 

Nobody should feel like they need to go through it alone. Everybody is at risk of major depressive episodes because of external circumstances of the world we live in, as well as personal circumstances, and even through our genetic makeup. However, we are dedicated to the health and well-being of anybody that needs care and support. We are here to help, and if you are looking for support you can get help now by getting in contact with us and letting us support you on your journey.