Major depression disorder is one of the types of depression. Besides this there are many other types of depression like minor depression, dysthymia, seasonal depression or winter depression and bipolar depression also known as manic depression and each has its own diagnostic criteria.
When you show signs and symptoms specific for this disorder only then you can be diagnosed to be suffering from this disorder. If there are other associated signs and symptoms you may be suffering from some other type of depression.
Diagnostic Criteria for Major Depression Disorder
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 4th edition, American Psychiatric Association has laid down the following diagnostic criteria for the diagnosis of major depressive episode.
You should have at least 5 of the following 9 symptoms and they should be present for a minimum of 2 weeks before the diagnosis can be made.
Moreover of the 5 symptoms, at least one symptom should be either depressed mood or loss of pleasure or interest in life.
If the depressive symptoms are occurring due to some other medical condition then they are not considered in the diagnostic criteria.
The following points are considered while making the diagnosis :
1.Low or Depressed Mood - It should be present most of the days in the week or may be present almost every day.You may report it yourself that you are feeling low in mood or are sad or it may be observed by people around you.For example they often see you crying or in sad mood. In case of children and adolescents it can be irritable mood rather than low mood.
2.Loss of Pleasure - There should be markedly decreased pleasure or interest in all or nearly all life activities.It should be present most of the days in a week or nearly every day. It may be reported by you or observed by someone else.These are the two points out of which at least one should be present along with other points to make the diagnosis of depression. Read in detail about the major depression symptoms and the remaining points in the diagnostic criteria.
Early Symptoms of Major Depression Disorder
The symptoms of depression can begin as minor changes in your routine and you may not be able to pick them and relate them to depression. The changes in your thinking and body come in at such a pace that you start getting used to them and do not find anything drastically changing in your health.
You may feel that you get fatigued easily and have little disturbance in sleep. You may find that your mood is a bit irritable and you may just ignore it, thinking that it due to ‘that’ reason or person. Unconsciously you actually start blaming others for your low or irritable mood and this can be a manifestation of pessimism which develops in depression.
In the early course of the disease, your daily routine is not disturbed and you continue to perform your duties unlike in fever or pneumonia in which you get bed bound and pay attention to your health because you suddenly have the feeling of being unwell. This does not happen in depression normally and thus many of us never pay attention to our mental health. Read in detail about early symptoms of major depression. You may try to cope up with these early symptoms by taking alcohol but it can lead to alcohol depression and worsen your symptoms.
Major Depression Disorder with Psychosis
Major depression can be present with psychotic features or without psychotic features. When psychosis is present along with depression it is known as psychotic depression and it is one of the subtypes of major depression.
If psychotic features are present in major depression, it is considered to be a severe form of depression and psychotic features are also bad prognostic indicators. This means that the course of recovery is not as fast and easy as it would be in depression without psychotic features. The psychotic features include delusions and hallucinations.
Major Depression Disorder Treatment
Major depression treatment is multi-pronged and adopting various techniques simultaneously may be more beneficial. However, different treatment strategies should be used together carefully because they may harmfully augment or nullify the effect of each other.
The other important factor before starting the treatment is the assessment of the severity of depression. Mild depression may not require any medical intervention and simple self help techniques and behavior changes may be sufficient to overcome the condition. On the other hand, severe depression may need aggressive and extensive treatment for overcoming it.
There are different treatment options available for depression and some options can be combined together to get the maximum benefit. Which treatment option to choose depends on a number of factors like your medical history, type of depression and severity of depression.
The various treatment options for major depression disorder include :