Major depression or major depressive disorder (MDD) is, also known as clinical depression, an illness characterized by a permanent depressed mood or connected with the loss of interest or pleasure (anhedonia) in all or almost all activities. Children and teenagers with MDD may be grumpy instead of sad. You should not confuse depression with a low mood of one day or two because major depression may lead to terrific complications and consequences. People often do not pay much attention or are not aware of it at all when they see a person in a bad mood. You may think that he will be okay tomorrow but he won’t.
Major depressive disorder: Description
Major depressive disorder is a severe mental disorder that deeply affects an individual’s way of life. Unlike grief, sorrow and sadness or an occasional episode of “the blues,” MDD causes a continuous period of gloom, helplessness and hopelessness, and may rob the person with MDD of the ability to enjoy activities or relationships that were previously successful. In some cases, depression seems to be triggered by an extremely stressful and terrible event, but depression may also develop without any particular reason. Research has shown that an initial stage of depression is likely to be a response to a concrete stimulus, but later stages are progressively more likely to start without an anxious event.
A person suffering depression finds responsibilities related to the job and such other tasks as parenting unbearable, burdensome and he does everything with enormous efforts or doesn’t do anything at all. Depression affects mental abilities and memory; it is usually difficult and irritating to perform simple tasks. Sexual interest is very low; many people with MDD try not to communicate with other people and avoid any type of social activity. Even the capability to enjoy delicious food or sleep tight and well is frequently lost; many depressed people complain about a chronic sense of malaise (general discomfort or unease). For some, symptoms accompanying major depression become so unbearable that suicide is seemed as the only option. It is an extremely unpleasant and frightening fact that this disease has the highest mortality rate of any mental disorder.
Major depressive disorder may have short duration, but often it may become chronic with many episodes of depressed and gloomy mood. Psychotic symptoms (bizarre thoughts, including delusional beliefs and hallucinations); catatonia; postnatal period (sometimes accompanied by psychotic symptoms); and seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, may occur during depression.
Such types of depression as postnatal depression and seasonal affective disorder accompany major depression only under certain circumstances. Postnatal depression develops within four weeks of giving birth. Women with this disorder experience frequent switch of mood. They may feel helpless and unable to take care of their infant, or they don’t care. The symptoms of postnatal depression are much more severe than those of the relatively common “the baby blues,” which affect up to 70% of newly moms and are not considered a serious problem.
If the mother has psychotic symptoms, too many obsessive thoughts or delusions about the baby, i.e. the risk that the child will receive serious harm is increasing. The symptoms of postnatal depression are usually associated with changes in the woman’s hormone levels and the emotional impact on the child during carrying. Depression is especially likely to occur in women who were highly anxious while being pregnant or had a previous history of mood disorder.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is also more common in women than in men; in this case, symptoms of MDD typically begin in autumn and winter. Fortunately, the symptoms of SAD typically improve during the spring and summer time.
Read about depression signs in detail: Do I have Depression?
Depression and brain
Depression probably causes changes in the areas of the brain that control mood. Nerve cells may be functioning poorly in certain zones of the brain.
Communication between nerve cells or nerve circuits can make it harder for a person to regulate mood. These problems may be affected negatively by hormones. An individual’s life experience plays an essential role in these biological processes.
Episodes of depression can occur at any age, everyone feels sad from time to time. Depression is diagnosed in women twice as often as in men. People who have a family member with major depressive disorder are more likely to develop depression or drinking problems. But if you are a thoughtful member of your family, you will try to help a person cope with depression by all means.
The most important thing for you to remember in the most severe cases is that the person who suffers from depression must not stay alone.