Written by Shannon,
6 Minute Read
Medically reviewed by:
Erin O'Callaghan, PHD
Director of Therapy
10 Minute Read
Major depressive disorder (MDD), also commonly referred to as clinical depression, is one of the most common mental health conditions worldwide. According to a national survey, the 12-month and lifetime prevalences of depression were 10.4% and 20.6%, respectively.
Additionally, MDD is the leading cause of disability worldwide. Major depressive disorder can have a huge negative impact on the way you feel, think, and act, and it can cause overwhelming feelings of sadness as well as an immense loss of interest in the things and activities you used to find pleasure in.
A variety of emotional and physical problems can also happen as the result of major depressive disorder, and depression can impact your ability to carry out work, school, and family-related tasks and obligations.
However, depression is treatable, and learning more about coping strategies and different approaches to treatment can help you identify which may best align with your needs.
Some degree of sadness every now and then is a regular part of everyday life, but depression is much more than sadness. Whereas occasional sadness comes and goes and is not a long lasting issue, depression causes chronic symptoms and feelings of hopelessness and despair.
If you think you may be struggling with depression and are looking to learn more about major depressive disorder, you’re in the right place.
Anytime you believe that you are dealing with severe mental health issues like depression, it is important to seek out professional help. Depression can be hard, but there are a variety of treatment options that can help you get back to feeling like you again.
Signs and Symptoms of Major Depressive Disorder
Major depressive disorder can develop during any point of your life. It may occur only once in your life, but those struggling with depression generally experience multiple episodes during their lifetime.
During a depressive episode, symptoms can occur for the majority of the day nearly every day. Common symptoms include:
- Overwhelming feelings of sadness, despair, hopelessness, emptiness, and tearfulness
- Outbursts of anger, irritability, and frustration, even over very small matters
- A loss of interest and pleasure in activities that you once enjoyed, such as sex, hobbies, and sports
- Sleep disturbances such as insomnia, which is characterized by difficulty falling asleep, or sleeping too much
- Tiredness and lack of energy such that even small, everyday tasks require extra effort
- Changes in appetite such as a reduced or complete loss of appetite or an increase in appetite, and associated changes in weight such as weight gain or weight loss
- Anxiety, agitation, or restlessness
- Slowed thinking, speaking, or body movements
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt and a fixation on self-blame and past failures
- Difficulty thinking, concentrating, making decisions, and remembering things
- Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts, or suicide
- Physical problems that cannot be explained, such as back pains or headaches
These symptoms can vary in severity from day to day and overtime, and they can also vary in severity from person to person. However, for most people, symptoms of depression are severe enough that they interfere with their ability to go about their daily life.
Some people might not realize the things they are feeling are depression. If you are experiencing any combination of the aforementioned symptoms or if you are feeling generally unhappy and do not know why, it may be time for you to consult a professional who can help figure out what’s going on.
Additionally, if you think you may hurt yourself or attempt suicide, you should call 911 or your local emergency number right away.
Your safety is important to us. If you are in emotional distress or thinking about hurting yourself at any point, please make use of these resources:
Visit: If you are having a medical or mental health emergency, call 911 or go to your local emergency department.
Text: The Crisis Text Line provides 24 hour free and confidential help. Text HOME to 741-741 to connect with a counselor immediately.
Call: You can call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255) to talk with a live counselor 24 hours per day.
There is always help available. We recommend also reaching out to a family member or friend to let them know that you are having these thoughts and ask for help and support.
Treating Major Depressive Disorder: Medication and More
Medication and psychotherapy are two of the most common treatment methods for depression, and though both of these methods can be effective on their own, they may be even more effective when used together.
There are a wide variety of antidepressant medications available, which is why Brightside analyzes over 100 data points and uses decades of research to match you with the right medication for your individual needs.
Antidepressants can take 4 to 6 weeks, so patience is key in order to see results. If your results aren’t spot-on, your provider will work with you to make adjustments.
When it comes to psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy is the most effective therapy to treat major depressive disorder. Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on helping patients identify and change maladaptive thinking and behavioral patterns in order to find relief from symptoms.
Ways That You Can Help Manage Your Symptoms
Aside from medication and therapy, you may also be able to manage your symptoms by practicing healthy habits, such as:
- Taking good care of your physical health by exercising and eating well
- Taking a closer look at your thoughts by writing down recurring thoughts and challenging them
- Identifying unhelpful behaviors and replacing them with healthy behaviors
- Practicing self-compassion
- Reviewing your small successes everyday, regardless of how insignificant they may seem
- Staying connected with loved ones such as friends and family
If you are struggling with symptoms of depression, Brightside can help you get the care you deserve.
With Brightside, you have unlimited access to expert providers, evidence-based therapy, and any necessary medication can even be delivered right to your doorstep. Brightside can give you the personalized care you need, all from the comfort of your own home.
The Bottom Line
Major depressive disorder is one form of depression and is generally considered to be the most common form of depression. Also known as clinical depression, major depressive disorder can cause a wide variety of symptoms that interfere with your daily life and your ability to complete tasks, regardless of how minor those tasks may be.
Symptoms like feelings of hopelessness and despair, thoguhts of suicide or self-harm, loss of energy, loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed, and changes in appetite and sleeping patterns are all very common indicators of major depressive disorder, and can take a toll on your daily life.
However, depression is treatable, and treatment methods like medication, therapy, or medication and therapy together have proven to be very effective both on their own and when used in conjunction.
If you are struggling with symptoms of depression and are seeking help, Brightside is here to support you. Get started today with our free online assessment.