What is Major Depressive Disorder? Symptoms, Causes, Treatment 

While going through the difficult and challenging circumstances of life like illness, divorce, or death of a closed person; it’s normal to feel sad and depressed, and such feelings go away over time and become clinical depression. What if they don’t change, and persist over time. Today, we’ll discuss what is major depressive disorder; its symptoms, causes, and treatment.

What is Major Depressive Disorder? 

MDD (major depressive disorder) is when intense sad feelings persist for an extended period of time. However, MDD also goes by the name of clinical depression and it impacts various areas of a person’s life in terms of sleep, appetite, behavior, and mood.

MDD is a very common mental health problem in the US. According to an estimate, approximately 7.8 of the US people faced the MDD condition in 2019. Some people with this condition don’t look for treatment. However, a vast majority of people with MDD find a way to manage its symptoms with proper treatment like psychotherapy and medication.

Symptoms of Major Depressive Disorder 

According to the criteria of DSM-5 (diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders), a person with MDD has to meet the following conditions;

  • At least one sign of losing interest or pleasure or depressed mood
  • Symptoms would persist for two or more weeks
  • Experience a change in the functioning of your life

A person should be experiencing 5 or more following signs for two weeks;

  • Thinking of committing suicide or harming yourself
  • Having difficulty in making the decision, thinking, focusing, and concentrating
  • Feeling guilty or worthless, and often think of yourself in such a way that doesn’t make you feel good
  • Limited energy and feeling tired unusually
  • Feelings of restlessness, agitation, or anxiety
  • Wanting to sleep more than usual or having trouble falling into sleep
  • Change in appetite or gaining/losing weight suddenly
  • Losing interest in such activities that you used to enjoy
  • Feeling irritable and sad every day
  • Unexplained physical issues like headaches, back pain, etc

 Some of the main symptoms of MDD that parents should observe in their teenagers are as follows;

  • High social isolation and withdrawal
  • Troubles with their peers
  • Poor performance in the academic
  • High usage of substances like smoking or alcohol

Some of the symptoms of MDD in older adults are as follows;

  • Suicidal thoughts in older men
  • Often staying at home rather going out, socializing, or doing things
  • Losing interest, fatigue, or appetite and not because of a medical condition
  • Physical pain or ache
  • Change in personality and memory issues

Causes of Major Depressive Disorder 

Researchers still don’t know the exact and precise cause of MDD. In fact, there are various factors that could amplify the risk of developing MDD. It’s the integration of stress and genes that impact the brain’s chemistry and lower its capability to maintain a stable mood. However, hormonal changes could also cause the development of MDD. Some of the triggering points that cause the development of MDD are as follows;

  • Childhood abuse
  • Certain medications like steroids
  • Medical conditions like hypothyroidism or cancer
  • Usage of drugs or alcohol  

Treatment of Major Depressive Disorder 

Often psychologists and professionals treat MDD with medication, psychotherapy, or changes in the lifestyle to deal with the symptoms. People with MDD condition have thoughts of harming themselves and others, and they should stay in the hospital under care until making improvements in their symptoms.


Your doctor would prescribe you the following antidepressants;

SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors)

SSRIs are a type of antidepressant that psychologists suggest frequently. It works by helping inhibitors to break down the serotonin level in the brain, and it results in the form of a high amount of neurotransmitters.

Serotonin is a type of brain chemical that researchers believe to be responsible for our moods, and it helps you to develop a healthy sleeping pattern and have a good mood. Researchers believe that people with MDD condition has got lower serotonin levels. However, the SSRIs medication helps you to deal with the symptoms of MDD by amplifying the serotonin level in the brain. Some of the main SSRIs medicines that people could tolerate and lower side effects are as follows;

  • Celexa (Citalopram)
  • Prozac (fluoxetine)

SNRIs (serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors) are the other type of antidepressants that doctors usually recommend. The impact on the serotonin and norepinephrine level.

Other Medicines

Some of the other medicines that doctors prescribe when the abovementioned antidepressants don’t work, and they’re;

  • Wellbutrin (bupropion)

Some of its side effects are sleepiness and gaining weight. It’s better if you discuss it with your doctor by weighing its pros and cons.


Psychotherapy or talk therapy is a very effective treatment plan for MDD patients. It requires you to have a therapy session with your psychologist and talk about things that are upsetting you. Psychotherapy helps you in various ways;

  • Regaining control in your life and a sense of satisfaction
  • High self-esteem
  • Finding a way to solve problems and deal with challenges
  • Amplifying your communication skill
  • Behaving and acting based on the value rather than the mood
  • Achieving the balanced perspective
  • Adjusting yourself to a very stressful situation

Lifestyle Changes

  • Changes in Diet: your mind can benefit from healthy food, but it doesn’t cure depression. You should consider adding Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B, and magnesium to your diet
  • Avoid Alcohol: consumption of alcohol could aggravate the nervous system and MDD
  • Exercise: outdoor exercising in the moderate sunlight boosts your mood
  • Sleep Well: 7 to 9 hours of sleep is good for your mood and overall physical and mental health

Conclusion: What is Major Depressive Disorder? Symptoms, Causes, Treatment 

After an in-depth study of what is major depressive disorder; its symptoms, causes, and treatment; we have realized that MDD could negatively impact your mood and behavior. If you’re experiencing its symptoms, then you should discuss it with your therapist.