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What is a Major Depressive Disorder? 5 Ways to Identify It

What is a Major Depressive Disorder? 5 Ways to Identify It


Major depressive disorder is a mental health condition that affects millions of people around the world. Unfortunately, it can often go undiagnosed or untreated due to the stigma surrounding mental illness. In this article, we will explore what major depressive disorder is and provide five ways to identify it in yourself or someone you know. We will also discuss resources available for those affected and how they can get help. Whether you are newly diagnosed or looking for more information, this article will offer insights into dealing with depression and finding hope again.

What is a Major Depressive Disorder?

Major depressive disorder, also known as clinical depression, is a serious medical condition that causes feelings of sadness, anxiety, restlessness, difficulty concentrating, and loss of interest in activities that someone once enjoyed. Depression symptoms can vary from mild to severe and can include changes in sleep, appetite, energy level, concentration, and self-esteem. Depression may also manifest itself through physical symptoms such as fatigue, aches, pains, or digestive problems.

While it is normal to experience some ups and downs in life, major depressive disorder is more than just temporary sadness or “the blues.” A person with major depressive disorder has trouble concentrating on their daily tasks, as well as eating, sleeping, and taking pleasure in things that they once enjoyed. The disorder can cause problems with relationships and other aspects of daily living. However, in it’s rare and highly severe form, depression can even lead to suicide.

Depression affects people of all ages, but it is most common in adults ages 20-44. Women are more likely to experience depression as compared to men. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), about 16 million American adults suffer from major depressive disorder each year. 

Causes of Major Depressive Disorder

Major depressive disorder is a condition that can be caused by several different factors. It may be the result of genetic factors, psychological factors, or environmental factors, which are further discussed in detail below:

  • Genetic factors: Genetic factors refers to those factors that are caused by one’s genes. These may play a role in causing major depressive disorder. If one or both of your parents have the condition, you may be more likely to develop it yourself.
  • Psychological factors: Psychological factors are those factors or characteristics of the mental behavior of a person. These may also contribute to the development of major depressive disorder. If you have experienced trauma or stress in your life, you may be more susceptible to developing the condition.
  • Environmental factors: Lastly, environmental factors are those biotic as well as abiotic factors that influence or impact human beings. These may also play a role in causing major depressive disorder. If you live in a stressful or chaotic environment, you may be more likely to develop the condition. 

Ways to identify Major Depressive Disorder: 5 Vital Symptoms

When it comes to major depressive disorder, there are 5 vital symptoms to look out for:

  1. Persistent feelings of sadness and loss of interest in activities: This is perhaps the most obvious and well-known symptom of depression. If you or someone else has been feeling sad, low, or blue for two weeks or more, it could be a sign that something more serious is going on. Losing interest in the things you once enjoyed is another key symptom of depression. If you find yourself facing a lack of interest in hobbies or activities that you once loved and enjoyed, it may be a sign that something is wrong.
  2. Changes in sleep: One of the most common signs of depression is changes in sleeping patterns, meaning that depression can also cause issues with sleep. This can include difficulty falling asleep, early morning awakenings, or sleeping too much. If you’re facing insomnia or finding it hard to fall asleep or if you’re finding it hard to wake up from your sleep due to overthinking and restlessness, it could be a sign that you’re a victim of a major depressive disorder.
  3. Changes in appetite and weight: Depression can lead to changes in appetite and cause major eating disorders, which can either manifest as weight loss or weight gain. People afflicted with the major depressive disorder may experience a decrease or increase in appetite, leading to unexpected weight loss or gain. This can also include cravings for food that may not have been present before. If you notice any sudden changes in your eating habits, it may be worth checking in with a doctor.
  4. Difficulty concentrating: Someone who is dealing with depression may find it hard to focus on the tasks at hand and have trouble making decisions due to their foggy mental state. Concentration problems can interfere with everyday responsibilities such as work, school, and home life. 
  5. Feelings of hopelessness: Finally, one of the most common symptoms of depression is feelings of hopelessness and despair. Those affected by depression often feel fatigued and hopeless. If you find yourself feeling like there’s no hope and no point in anything, it’s important to reach out for help. 

Risks Factors associated with Major Depressive Disorder

Major depressive disorder is a mental illness that can have a significant impact on an individual’s ability to function in day-to-day life. The condition is characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, anxiety, or emptiness, and can lead to problems with sleeping, eating, concentration, and energy levels. People with the major depressive disorder may also experience physical symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, or body aches.

There are several risk factors associated with major depressive disorder. These include genetics, family history, trauma or stress, and certain medical conditions. People who have a close relative with depression are more likely to develop the condition themselves. Additionally, people who have experienced traumatic events or who live with chronic stress are also at increased risk. Some medical conditions that have been linked to increased risk for depression include thyroid problems, cancer, heart disease, and stroke.

Treatment for Major Depressive Disorder

Major depressive disorder is a serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think, and how you act. Because of depression, one’s mental and physical health may suffer, and as a result, their productivity at work and at home may suffer as well. However, fortunately, it is also treatable.

There are many different types of treatment available for major depressive disorder, the most common type being antidepressant medication. Antidepressants are available in several different forms, including pills, capsules, liquids, and injections. Antidepressants work by correcting the chemical imbalance in the brain that is thought to be responsible for depression.

Other common treatments for major depressive disorder include psychotherapy, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). Psychotherapy is a form of counseling that helps people understand their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to change negative thinking and behavior patterns. ECT is a procedure that uses electrical pulses to stimulate the brain and cause changes in brain activity. TMS is a procedure that uses magnetic pulses to stimulate the brain and improve mood.

Thus, if you find yourself facing any of the major depressive disorder symptoms, it is recommended that you schedule and meet up with a professional or a known doctor specialized in that field and seek help from them. If you feel uncomfortable talking directly to your doctor, reach out to your close family and friends, who you trust and believe can help you.


Major Depressive Disorder is a serious mental illness that can have profound effects on those who suffer from it. Although the causes of MDD are not yet fully understood, many individuals find relief with effective treatments such as medication and therapy. Knowing how to identify the signs and symptoms of Major Depression Disorder is an important first step in getting help. We hope that this article has provided you with valuable information about Major Depressive Disorder so you can start taking steps toward wellness today.

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