A Guide to Major Depressive DisorderMost everyone at one time or another experiences moods of depression. That is normal. Yet, up to 26 percent of women and up to 12 percent of men have what is known as major depressive disorder. The Journal of the American Medical Association shows that this affects quite a bit of the general population, even if the statistics aren’t that staggering.

Here is a guide to major depressive disorder. What it is, who gets it, the symptoms, and treatment options.

What is Major Depressive Disorder?

There are actually a few types of major depressive disorder – it does not encompass a blanket definition. Here are the sub-types that are indicative of this disorder.

Postpartum Depression

This form of depressive disorder is common for women after having a baby. While it does not have a particular cause but a mix of causes, it can even affect those who are newly adoptive parents. Part of the contributing factors are due to hormonal changes. Along with levels of estrogen and progesterone dropping, lack of sleep, physical changes, etc – these factors are both physical and mental. It is important to realize that this disorder is not based on something the new mother has done – or not done.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

This is a type of depressive disorder that mainly occurs in the winter months. This type of depressive disorder is unique in that it occurs about the same time each year. Another name for it is winter depression and research points to the decrease in sunlight. This is because this decrease results in reducing melatonin levels, minimizing serotonin levels, and a disruption of the circadian rhythm or our internal clock.

Melancholic Depression

This is a sub-type that may not be quite as familiar as some of the others. With melancholic depression, the symptoms are all related to a lack of enjoyment out of anything.

According to Very Well Mind:

The term ‘melancholia’ is one of the oldest terms used in psychology. It has been around since Hippocrates introduced it in the fifth century B.C., and it means “black bile” in Greek. This is fitting because Hippocrates believed that an excess of black bile, one of what he labeled “The Four ​Humours,” caused melancholia. The symptoms he categorized under melancholia are nearly identical to the symptoms we use today, including fear, not wanting to eat, insomnia, restlessness, agitation, and sadness.

Psychotic Depression

A past history of depression or a traumatic event may trigger a psychotic depression event. This may develop after you have been out of touch with reality or have had hallucinations.

Catatonic Depression

This one is indicative of behavioral issues and lack of motor skills. This is a severe issue that affects the daily life of the person with it. It includes involuntary movements and the person may be immobilized. These symptoms also make it harder to treat catatonic depression.

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What Causes Major Depressive Disorder?

According to Psy:

While the prevalence of major depression is widespread, the causes of major depression are equally as numerous and have their origins in a variety of places. Medical journal Neuron cites genetics as a prevailing cause of major depressive disorder, with “an approximately 3-fold increased risk for MDD [Major Depressive Disorder] in the first-degree relatives (parents, siblings, offspring) of individuals with MDD versus the general population.” This means that the single biggest determining factor of your depression can be found in your family tree, but there also is a significant physiological and anatomical basis.

Some people may develop major depressive disorder after a big event in their lives. This can be anything from losing a job to dealing with the death of a loved one. This is what is known as a socioeconomic factor and while the other two are most significant, this plays a role as well.

What Are the Symptoms?

The symptoms of major depressive disorder vary. While each has similar attributes, it depends on which type of major depressive disorder you have. Here are common symptoms:

  • Lack of interest in anything
  • Fatigue or the opposing restlessness
  • Negative thinking
  • Weight gain or weight loss
  • Agitation
  • Suicidal thoughts or morbid thoughts
  • An increase in sleep activity
  • An inability to focus
  • Withdrawing from typical activities
  • Withdrawal from family, friends, or loved ones

What is the Treatment for Major Depressive Disorder?

Treatment for a major depressive disorder includes a combination of two options – medicinal and therapeutic.


The most helpful form of treatment for major depressive disorder is therapy. Various types of therapy including cognitive therapy, are helpful. These forms of treatment allow a person to improve their lifestyle and mood. It helps them deal with things that aggravate or trigger depression such as stress, They also gain insight into building a better relationship with their loved ones. Individual, group, and family are just a few of the therapies that aid in minimizing symptoms of major depressive disorder.


While using a prescription drug won’t work as effectively by itself, it does help with major depressive disorder.

Most physicians begin by prescribing a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, or SSRI, a category of medications that includes Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil and Celexa.

None of these drugs work instantly and can instead, take up to six weeks before a difference is felt. Not only that but some people have to try a variety of prescriptions before they find the one that works best for their needs.

Let the Experts Help You

If you or someone you love is dealing with major depressive disorder, it’s not fun. A diagnosis for this disorder is integral and once a positive diagnosis is made, treatment is imperative to live a normal life.

Here at Transformations, we offer customized treatment plans for all of our patients. We do not believe in a quick fix or a plan that is just like everyone else’s plan. Instead, we combine treatment options that are specific to the person.

If you or someone you love needs help with major depressive disorder, contact us so we can help.

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