About Major Depressive Disorder
Major Depressive Disorder is a serious condition marked by a low mood and low self-esteem and an inability to find interest or pleasure from normally enjoyed activities. Major Depressive Disorder can be so severe as to be disabling, affecting all areas of life negatively. The diagnosis of major depression is primarily based on the patient’s self-reported experiences, or behavior reported by relatives or friends, and a mental status evaluation. Though depression is not diagnosed by medical testing, it is not common for a treating doctor to request tests to reveal physical conditions that may be the cause of the symptoms of depression. As with other disorders, if depressive disorder is not detected and treated in its early stages, the result may be a slower recovery which can also affect or worsen the person’s physical health.
Treatment of Major Depressive Disorder typically involves the use of antidepressant medication and, in many cases, psychotherapy or counseling. Many question the effectiveness of medication for mild or moderate cases. In situations that involve extreme self neglect or a high risk of harm to self or others, hospitalization may be necessary. Though not common today, a minority may receive electro-convulsive therapy (ECT), under general anesthetic. Because major depressive episodes can last weeks or even months, the course of treatment tends to be lengthy. In general depressed individuals have shorter life expectancies, and face a higher risk of serious medical illnesses or suicide.
Though teenagers are not frequently diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, when it does arise in adolescents early treatment is critical. Parents may see symptoms that appear to be more irritability than depression, but these can arise from the same root cause. Depressive tendencies are especially dangerous to teens, as they are often more prone to suicidal thoughts and attempts than adults.