How is Major Depressive Disorder Different From Depression?


A depressed mood disorder is characterized by sadness or despair for at least two weeks. Severe Depression is when the symptoms are so prevalent they interfere with daily life and cause work, school, and family relationship problems. Major Depression can become a chronic medical condition if it lasts over two years without improvement. When depression treatments cannot alleviate all of the symptoms of Depression, it is called Treatment-Resistant Depression (TRD).

Physical Symptoms and Psychotic Symptoms of Atypical and Major Depressive Disorder

  • Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, or pessimism about one’s future.

  • Feeling blue or in a sad mood most days. Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed.

  • Trouble sleeping or oversleeping. Fatigue or loss of energy. Anxiety symptoms.

  • Poor appetite or overeating. Weight gain or weight loss or change in body image.

  • Poor concentration and difficulty concentrating on tasks. Problems making decisions

  • Irritability or outbursts of anger. Feelings of guilt. Thoughts of death or suicide.


Types of Depression and Mental Disorders

  • Major Depression Disorder (MDD) is a mental health condition that causes persistent sadness and uninterest in what was once pleasurable. It is also referred to as Unipolar Depression.

  • Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD) is a subtype of major depressive disorder that has been present for at least two years. PDD is distinguished from Major Depression by its chronicity, severity, and treatment resistance.

  • Bipolar Depression, also known as manic depression, involves extreme highs and lows in moods. It affects people differently but often involves periods of mania followed by episodes of deep Depression. Bipolar Disorder I refers to those with only one episode of mania or hypomania; Bipolar Disorder II refers to those who have experienced both attacks.

  • Postpartum Depression is a form of Depression that occurs within six months after childbirth. Symptoms of Depression usually begin during pregnancy or soon after delivery.

  • Changes in seasons such as winter weather, daylight hours, or holidays may trigger Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). People with mild Depression tend to feel better in warmer climates with more sunlight.

  • Psychotic Depression is a type of Depression that includes hallucinations and delusions. Psychosis is not always associated with Depression. Sometimes psychosis appears before Depression begins. Other times, psychotic Depression develops later in the course of bipolar disorder.


Brain Chemistry and Treatment For Major Depressive Disorder with Antidepressants

Antidepressants work by increasing levels of neurotransmitters in the brain. The most common treatment of depression uses antidepressant drugs to increase the level of serotonin in the brain. This helps reduce symptoms of depression such as anxiety or sadness. The most common antidepressants are called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs. 

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) – SSRIs are prescribed by a medical professional to treat a mental disorder by increasing the amount of serotonin in your brain. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor medications increase the level of serotonin available for use throughout the body. This can help relieve severe depression and depression-related problems. Serotonin helps regulate emotions such as happiness, sadness, anger, fear, anxiety, and sexual desire. It also plays a key role in sleep patterns. The more elevated your serotonin levels are, the better you feel.

However, relief from depressive symptoms is not immediate for everyone. In fact, many people who take an SSRI have only partial improvement in their moods. They may still feel sad or anxious even though they no longer show signs of clinical depression. Some patients will need other kinds of therapy or medical interventions before finding an effective treatment.

Treatment-Resistant Depression: What Is it?

Depressed patients who fail to respond adequately to two different classes of antidepressants are said to suffer from “treatment-resistant” depression. These individuals typically require multiple trials of various combinations of antidepressants before achieving remission. Medications should be used along with psychoeducation and/or psychotherapy to treat severe symptoms. Health care providers and medication therapists monitor patient progress and adjust doses accordingly.

Mental Health Services and Treatments for Types of Major Depressive Disorder

Psychotherapy – involves talking with a mental health professional trained in helping others cope with emotional distress. Mental health services include counseling, group therapy, interpersonal therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, etc., and other psychotherapies. These methods focus on changing thoughts and behaviors that contribute to negative emotions.

Psychoeducation: Psychoeducational interventions teach patients how to recognize early warning signs of relapse and provide information about effective coping strategies.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: CBT focuses on identifying unhelpful thinking patterns and replacing them with helpful ones. 

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT): this treatment uses electricity to induce seizures to treat severe cases of major depressive disorders. ECT has been shown to be highly successful at treating depression when medication alone fails. 

Medication Combinations – Combination Therapy: Some studies suggest combining two different classes of antidepressants together may result in greater effectiveness for people with depression than taking either one separately. 

Magnetic Stimulation and Brain Stimulation Therapies: Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation stimulates certain parts of the brain using magnetic fields. A transcranial magnetic stimulator device delivers pulses of energy through coils placed over specific areas of the head. 

 Other Therapeutic Approaches: Other therapeutic approaches for depression symptoms include light therapy, exercise, yoga, acupuncture, massage, biofeedback, and hypnosis.

Please call 911 if you are experiencing a medical emergency or to call our admissions department for support (801) 499-9316

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