Recognizing the Signs of Major Depressive Disorder
Within the U.S., major depressive disorder ranks as the most prevalent of all psychological disorders. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, as much as 6.7 percent of adults suffer from major depressive disorder while 30.4 percent of those affected suffer from severe forms of depression.
Major depressive disorder, also known as MDD, can be a debilitating condition that takes a considerable toll on a person’s daily life. While this condition tends to affect certain types of people more than others, its symptoms stem from both physical and psychological causes. For this reason, it can be misdiagnosed when certain other conditions exist. Once certain other conditions are ruled out, it’s fairly easy to recognize the signs of major depressive disorder.
Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)
An ongoing sense of hopelessness and despair is one of the most prominent signs of MDD. This condition leaves a person in a depressed mood for most, if not all of the day, with morning times being especially difficult. He or she has also lost interest in activities once enjoyed.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, at least five of the following symptoms must be present in order for major depressive disorder to apply. At least one of these five symptoms must be a depressed mood or a loss of interest in once enjoyable activities.
- Inability to sleep or sleeping too much
- Inability to concentrate and/or make decisions
- Considerable weight loss or gain of more than five percent
- A sense of worthless and/or overwhelming guilt
- Repeated thoughts of death and suicide with or without a plan
Each of these symptoms must be present on a daily basis or at least nearly a daily basis.
Within the U.S. population, anywhere from 20 to 25 percent of adults will develop major depressive disorder within their lifetime. Teenagers, children and older adults also experience MDD though these incidents often go unreported. This condition tends to run in families from generation to generation, though someone with no family history of depression can also develop MDD.
In terms of men versus women, women are twice more likely to develop MDD than men, mostly due to the hormonal changes associated with menstruation, puberty, pregnancies and miscarriages. Depression in men typically goes unreported as men are far less likely to seek out help. As men tend to repress their emotions, signs of major depressive disorder tend to take on more violent or demonstrative expressions, such as anger, violence towards others or self, as well as suicidal and/or homicidal tendencies.
Certain life circumstances can bring on symptoms resembling major depressive disorder, so these must be ruled out before an accurate diagnosis can be made. Some who’s just lost a loved may fall into a clinical depression. People suffering from certain medical conditions, such as heart disease can also experience depressive symptoms. Substance abuse users are also ruled out, though chronic substance abuse can cause MDD to develop.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, any appearance of MDD symptoms must last for a minimum of two weeks in order for major depressive disorder to apply. Ultimately, MDD will cause considerable problems in a person’s life related to work, relationships and social interactions.