You may be experiencing Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) if you are suffering a sad mood or the loss of interest or pleasure in nearly all activities. Also, you must identify with an appropriate number of the symptoms listed below.
Symptoms of Major Depressive Disorder
You must have at least one of these symptoms: a depressed mood or loss of pleasure or interest. In addition, five or more of the following symptoms must have been present for two weeks in a row. They must be different than your usual functioning. Finally, please don’t include symptoms that are clearly the result of a medical condition.
- Feeling depressed for most of the day, almost every day as evidenced by feelings of sadness, emptiness, or hopelessness. Someone else may be noticing these symptoms in you (he/she seems sad, tearful).
- Experiencing negative changes in your level of interest or pleasure. This may be in all or almost all activities and for most of the day, most days of the week.
- Decrease in your appetite or a change of 5% or more in weight gain or loss. Must specifically be without the intention to gain or lose.
- Difficulty getting to sleep or sleeping too much.
- Experiencing a feeling of agitation or of being slowed down in your body and movements. Others may be seeing this in you.
- Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day.
- Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt nearly every day. People who care about you do not and would not agree with these feelings.
- Decreased ability to think, decreased concentration, difficulty making decisions nearly every day as supported by you and others.
- Recurrent thoughts of death (not just a fear of dying), recurrent suicidal thoughts without a specific plan, a suicide attempt, or a specific plan for committing suicide.
The symptoms that you are experiencing cause a great deal of distress. They are significantly interfering with your ability to function socially at work, school, or other important areas of life.
In addition, the episode is not better explained as a response to a major loss, grief, or financial ruin. This includes losses from a major disaster, medical illness, or disability.
The occurrence is not better explained by schizoaffective disorder, schizophrenia, schizophreniform disorder, or delusional disorder.
Finally, there has never been a manic or hypomanic episode.
Major depression can appear at any age. About 7% percent of the population in the U.S. will experience major depression. There are, however, differences in age groups. For example, people age 18-29 are three times more likely to experience major depression than individuals 60 and older. Also, females experience 1.5 to 3 times higher rates than males beginning in early adolescence.
The course of major depression varies. Please see DSM-5, Fifth edition for full criteria for major depression and the full range of depressive disorders. Understand that Major Depressive Disorder responds well to CBT and/or medication. There is hope. In conclusion, if you or someone you care about is suffering from depression in the Main Line, Montgomery County, or Greater Philadelphia Area, please call me or another qualified professional for an evaluation.