We all experience periods of sadness in our lives. Usually, we can get through these low times with the support of the people closest to us and as our life circumstances change.
But when a low mood keeps going on for weeks and causes disruption to everyday activities, this could be the sign of a more serious condition known as major depressive disorder (MDD).
When addressed early, major depressive disorder is highly treatable.
Read on to learn more about major depressive disorder, or skip ahead to the information you find most helpful.
Here are some examples of situations that would suggest you could benefit from treatment:
You don’t enjoy your favorite activities anymore.
You can’t seem to get moving during the day or can’t sleep at night.
You are overcome with feelings of worthlessness or despair.
Thoughts of death or suicide have occupied your mind.
Treatment options are available.
At Eappen Clinic, we know that treatment for MDD works. We will collaborate with you to establish a tailored treatment plan that will help you break free from debilitating symptoms and start to feel well again.
What is major depressive disorder?
MDD is characterized by low mood or not enjoying typically pleasurable activities, lasting nearly every day for at least two weeks. It is often accompanied by a number of other symptoms, such as:
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Unexplained weight gain or loss, or change in appetite
- Indecisiveness or trouble concentrating
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt that are inappropriate to the situation
This is not a complete list of symptoms. At Eappen Clinic, we can help you distinguish between MDD and other possible health conditions. Additional screening may be necessary to evaluate suicide risk, since there is a close connection between MDD and suicidal behavior.
MDD can cause disruption in all aspects of your life, including work, home life and personal care.
Who gets major depressive disorder?
MDD is one of the most common mental health disorders, with research suggesting that as many as one in five people will experience it at some point in their lives.
It affects both men and women, but is generally more than twice as common in women. New mothers are highly susceptible to depression in the period immediately following delivery. Others that are at-risk for MDD include the elderly and those with a military background.
Depression can often happen for someone with a chronic physical illness. Research shows that around half of people diagnosed with MDD have at least one chronic physical condition. For example, there is a close relationship between MDD and heart disease. Not only can MDD increase the risk of developing heart disease, it can make the heart condition worse.
Our team at Eappen Clinic can help you make sense of stressful life events that can increase your risk of MDD. Perhaps you’ve lost a loved one, experienced physical or emotional abuse or are managing an upsetting incident in your life.
How is major depressive disorder treated?
The goal of treatment for MDD is to eliminate or reduce depressive symptoms so they do not interfere with living a full life. The recommended type of treatment will depend on how severe your symptoms are.
For patients with mild to moderate symptoms, psychotherapy will likely be the preferred treatment.
Brief therapies that have shown excellent results in treating mild to moderate symptoms are cognitive behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy. They involve working in collaboration with the therapist to change patterns of thinking and behavior. These therapies usually involve regular meetings with the therapist for about 12 weeks, with homework between sessions to reinforce what is learned in therapy.
For more severe cases of MDD, medication therapy likely will be necessary. Major advances in drug therapy have been made, and most patients will see significant improvement from a class of antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These drugs can relieve the symptoms of MDD without generating the many unpleasant side effects common with use of older medications.
How soon will I begin to feel better?
Just as with other chronic illnesses, people with MDD do not always respond to the first treatment they receive. Having patience is key.
The first SSRI that is prescribed may not offer enough relief, but that doesn’t mean another SSRI won’t help more. There is no one ideal antidepressant for every patient, so you might have to try more than one option before you experience improvement.
If no improvement happens after a few weeks on a given medication, another medication may be tried. If there is some improvement but symptoms persist, a higher dose might be needed.
It also will be important for you to talk with us about any unwanted side effects you experience while on medication. A medication change may put you back on track when side effects become bothersome.
Remember that MDD is a highly recurring illness. That means you can have relapses of your depression symptoms. And longer-term treatment even after remission may be the best option for you.
Should I get treatment for my major depressive disorder?
If your feelings of sadness do not affect you most days and aren’t interfering with your daily functioning or the activities you commonly enjoy, you might not need treatment. But if low feelings have persisted for two weeks or more and are causing major disruption in your life, treatment can help you feel well again.
Timing is important. MDD is one of the most under-detected illnesses, and not identifying it in time can lead to harmful behaviors, including suicide. The good news is that once MDD is diagnosed, highly effective treatments are available.
At Eappen Clinic, we can help you understand your symptoms and whether they suggest major depressive disorder, or even perhaps another disorder. Your first appointment with us is a detailed evaluation. At the end of your evaluation, you’ll leave knowing the next steps.
Let’s work together to help you feel well again.