Depressive Disorders

Major Depression & Related Disorders

Depression is often misunderstood, even though it is the second leading cause of disability worldwide. It is important to understand that depression is unlike temporary mood changes that many people experience, because it has long term impacts on a person’s well-being and day to day functioning. Below is a list of three common depressive disorders, with accompanying symptoms and facts .


  • Severe depressive symptoms that affect a person’s functioning for almost all day, every day, for two weeks.
  • Episodes involve a pattern of loss of interest in activities, and behavioral feelings of sadness or emptiness.
  • Many people experience anxious distress during an episode, which might be motor tension or inability to relax.
  • Suicide risk is high for individuals with MDD.
  • Nearly one-third of individuals with MDD also have a substance abuse disorder.


  • Involves chronic depressive symptoms present most of the day, for most days over the course of 2 years.
  • Include symptoms such as feelings of hopelessness, poor appetite or overeating, fatigue, or distressing sleeping patterns.
  • For many people dysthymia is lifelong disorder.
  • Dysthymia involves negative patterns of thinking and a pessimistic life view.


  • Depression, irritability, and tension appear the week before menstruation and disappear shortly after.
  • Requires five premenstrual symptoms, such as (but not limited to) depressed mood, mood swings, anger, anxiety, and irritability.
  • PMDD produces greater distress and physical dysfunction than normal menstruation.

Depression can be treated with a variety of therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy, as well as a number of safe medications. Contact us today to start feeling better again.


Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is a mental health disorder characterized by at least one major depressive episode. Afflicted individuals can be affected both emotionally and physically, with symptoms influencing moods and cognitive abilities as well as energy and appetite levels, libido, and sleep patterns. Though it is one of the most common mental illness, it can still be severe and have significant impacts on an individual’s functioning and overall well-being, and could even lead to suicide.

Many different factors often play a role in the development of someone’s depression. MDD can have a biological basis. Depressed individuals may be suffering from an imbalance in one or multiple neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. Experiencing chronic high stress levels, especially during childhood, may impact cortisol production and lead to depressive symptoms. Structural differences in the brain can also play a role in developing depression. People with depression are more likely to have: “faulty wiring” of emotional circuits, reduced neuroplasticity or neurogenesis, and heightened activity in the amygdala and/or reduced activity in the prefrontal cortex. Research has shown that there are possible genetic links to depression. Though having a depressed parent does not mean that you’ll automatically inherit and develop MDD, it may predispose you and make you more susceptible than others to experience depressive symptoms following a negative life event.

The environment we grow up in or currently live in often plays a role in the development of MDD. A lack of positive social reinforcement and support can contribute to depression. Negative or abusive relationships can be very harmful to one’s mental health, particularly if the relationship is intimate and/or long in length. Stressful school or work conditions can contribute, as well as workplace environments in which individuals feel powerless or undervalued. Experiencing a stressful, traumatic, or just generally emotionally negative life event can also lead to depressive symptoms.


Societal expectations or constraints based on gender, race, sexuality, or class also factor into developing depression. For example, one reason women may be more likely than men to have MDD could be the social expectations they face in regards to behavior, appearance, and role responsibilities (ex. the high expectations of mothers), or the constraints they experience due to a history of oppressive and demeaning treatment and the resulting lack of academic, occupational, and social opportunities and support they have. Ethnic minorities may be more likely to have physical symptoms, like fatigue, aches, and pains as prominent aspects of their depression. Individuals who are part of stigmatized groups, like immigrants, people of color, and members of the LGBTQ community may be at risk for depression.


There are many treatment options available that have been shown to be effective for individuals suffering from depression. Multiple medications have proven effectiveness in treating depression, especially in alleviating moderate to severe symptoms. Our doctor may prescribe you an SSRI, SNRI, MAOI, tricyclic, or antitypical medication.

Therapy is often used in treating depression, and can be structured in different ways. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) helps individuals to change the negative and often distorted thought patterns that may contribute to their depressed mood and feelings of worthlessness or guilt. Behavioral activation therapy focuses on improving mood by getting individuals to more actively engage in life through enjoyable activities and social opportunities. Interpersonal therapy can address problems stemming from social conflicts or unhealthy relationships. Our therapists have had great success in treating depression. After a thorough evaluation, a treatment plan will be developed, and the therapy approach will be tailored to meet the individual’s needs and underlying issues that are contributing to the depression.

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