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What Is Major Depressive Disorder?

man looks out window and considers what is major depressive disorder

For millions of people, depression—also called major depressive disorder or clinical depression—is a life-impairing and sometimes life-threatening medical mental health condition. Major depressive disorder can affect how a person feels, thinks, and behaves. It also affects the way people eat and sleep, as well as their energy level and concentration.

Moods associated with major depressive disorder can range from feeling sad or “down” to having episodes of extreme depression and feeling like life is no longer worth living. These feelings can become so severe that they interfere with everyday life. If you suspect you or a loved one suffers from depression, understanding what depression is and how it is treated are vitally important first steps.

For mental health treatment in Greenville, Florida, reach out to Honey Lake Clinic today. Call 888.428.0562 today to get started with treatment.

What Is Depression—And How Is It Different from Sadness?

Sadness is an emotion everyone experiences. It usually results from a direct situational cause, like a loss, a sudden, drastic, or unforeseen change in life circumstances, or adversity. Sadness typically lasts a short time and doesn’t significantly interfere with your normal day-to-day activities, responsibilities, and relationships.

With sadness, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Depression differs in that it is more than “a bout of the blues.” A person suffering from depression can’t simply “snap out of it.” They typically experience a range of characteristic symptoms over an extended period of time. These symptoms are severe enough to have a noticeable impact on all areas of life.

With depression, it feels as though there is no light at the end of the tunnel—just more darkness.

Signs and symptoms of major depression commonly include:

  • Persistent sadness
  • Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
  • Disinterest or a loss of pleasure in life’s activities
  • Anxiety, irritability, restlessness, agitation or anger
  • Insomnia or excessive sleeping
  • Extreme appetite or weight changes
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Difficulty concentrating or becoming easily distracted
  • Reckless behavior
  • Thoughts of suicide

The Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available at 988 if you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide.

The Causes of Major Depressive Disorder

A specific cause of major depressive disorder has not been identified. Its recipe includes many ingredients. A person’s genes, brain chemistry, life experiences, and psychological and spiritual health can all be contributing factors.

Depression can occur if certain neurotransmitters, like serotonin and dopamine, are out of balance. It may also be related to hormones. Women often experience depression during times when hormone levels vary due to childbirth, menopause, or other hormonal fluctuations.

Medical illnesses such as heart disease, hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes, cancer, and other chronic conditions can cause depression. It has also been linked to the use of certain medications, alcohol and substance abuse, stress, or grief and loss.

Types of Major Depressive Disorder

Just as there are many types of coughs—all with similarities, but each with different causes and treatments—varying types of depression have been identified by their characteristics.

  • Major depression (often called clinical depression) is a severe form of depression, including a number of the above signs and symptoms experienced for longer than two weeks.
  • Persistent depressive disorder is a longer-lasting but often less intense form of depression, where a client experiences a depressed mood most of the day, for more days than not, and for two years or longer.
  • Post-partum depression can occur in women after delivering a baby due to hormonal and physical changes along with stressors associated with pregnancy, delivery, and motherhood.
  • Seasonal affective disorder is caused by decreased sunlight and colder temperatures during the winter months, typically including feelings of fatigue, increased appetite, slower thinking, and sadness.
  • Bipolar disorder is characterized by cycling mood changes, experiencing periods of extreme highs (mania) followed by extreme lows (depression).
  • Depression with psychosis occurs in about 10-15% of major depressions, including some form of psychosis, hearing voices (auditory hallucinations), seeing visions (visual hallucinations), or odd beliefs (delusions).

While the specifics of each type vary, all forms of depression have one thing in common—they can cause significant suffering and interfere with everyday life.

Treatment for Major Depressive Disorder

The good news is that major depressive disorder can be treated effectively and that recovery is possible. A combination of medications and psychotherapy—through talk therapy or group counseling—can help people understand the causes of depression and cope with difficulties.

Call Honey Lake Clinic for a BioPsychoSpiritual Treatment Strategy

Depression can be effectively managed and even cured when we address all three spheres—body, mind, and spirit. Medication, psychological awareness and skills, and spiritual truths and principles are all integral parts of a life-transformation process that can help you rediscover life beyond depression.

At Honey Lake Clinic, our experienced staff, licensed therapists, psychologists, and psychiatric specialists are here to offer hope and provide answers for you. Renewal can start today with a simple phone call. To learn more or get started today, call Honey Lake Clinic at 888.428.0562 or reach out to our team online.