Health19 Nov 2009 09:16 pm
Major depressive disorder (also known as clinical depression) is a mental disorder characterized by an all-consuming low mood and loss of interest and pleasure in the activities that previously elicited happiness. The onset of Major depressive disorder usually occurs between the ages of 30 and 40 years, and for unknown reasons, is diagnosed twice as often in women than it is in men.
In order for an individual to be diagnosed with major depressive disorder, they must meet the follow criteria and have experienced the following symptoms for at least two weeks:
Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day, as indicated by either subjective report (e.g., feeling sad or empty) or observation made by others (e.g., appears tearful). (In children and adolescents, this may be characterized as an irritable mood.);
Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day;
Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain (e.g., a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month), or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day;
Insomnia or hypersomnia nearly every day;
Psychomotor agitation or retardation nearly every day;
Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day;
Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day;
Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day;
Recurrent thoughts of death (not just fear of dying); and
Recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide.
Moreover, the above-listed symptoms must represent a break from the individual’s normal mood and cannot be caused by a medical condition, illicit drugs/prescription medication and/or bereavement. Major Depressive disorder is usually treated with a combination of antidepressants and traditional psychotherapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which relies on a no-nonsense, goal oriented approach, has been found to be especially effective in treating low-grade to moderate depression. However, research has not demonstrated its efficacy with respect to severe manifestations of clinical depression.
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