Major Depressive Disorder Symptoms, Causes, And What To Do

major depressive disorder symptoms

Have you ever experienced feeling so down that you know it’s more than mere sadness? You thought you were only having a bad day, but you go on with the same feeling for days. Maybe weeks. Depression is a real mental health condition that affects many people from all walks of life. In this current pandemic we’re in right now, even more individuals get depressed and, unfortunately, some never overcome it. However, there’s always hope for anyone who falls into depression.

It’s important for us to know and understand depression and its types. A psychological condition usually consists of more than one kind. Being informed helps you learn exactly what you’re dealing with and what you should do about it.

What Is Major Depressive Disorder?

Depression comes in different forms: dysthymia, persistent depressive disorder, postpartum depression, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, etc. Major depressive disorder (MDD) is one of the most common. According to WHO, about 5 % among adults and 5.7 % among adults older than 60 years experience MDD globally. It’s a leading cause of disability worldwide.

The American Psychological Association (APA) defines major depressive disorder as a mood disorder–characterized by persistent sadness and other symptoms of a major depressive episode but without accompanying episodes of mania or hypomania or mixed episodes of depressive and manic or hypomanic symptoms. This mental health condition can have a significant impact on many areas of a person’s life.


When someone has major depressive disorder, there are common tell-tale signs. Here are some of them:

  • Sleep disturbance – lacking sleep or sleeping too much (insomnia or hypersomnia).
  • Anhedonia – not experiencing pleasure even in activities once enjoyed.
  • Negative feelings – feeling hopeless, worthless, empty, guilty, etc.
  • Lethargy – not having enough energy to do anything (even the easiest tasks).
  • Impaired thinking – have memory problems, indecisive, slow to think and have trouble concentrating.
  • Slowed speech and body movements – impaired thinking results in weakened ability to talk and act properly.
  • Weight problems – losing or gaining too much weight because of appetite changes (overeating or not eating enough).
  • Agitation – experiencing restlessness or anxiety for days on end.
  • Emotional outbursts – sudden anger or irritability over insignificant things (e.g. small mistakes people make).
  • Recurrent thoughts about death or suicide – involves suicidal thoughts and attempts.

It’s important to learn about depression and its symptoms. You can avoid misinformation and taking the wrong action when you understand the condition well.


Just like other mental health conditions, a depressive disorder is caused by a number of factors. Any one or more of these can contribute to the condition’s development.

  • Major life events – death of a loved one, divorce, retirement, and other circumstances can trigger major depression.
  • Relationship conflicts – not being on good terms with someone important, even more so when it’s too stressful and difficult to handle.
  • Trauma – accidents, abuse, and other traumatic experiences usually lead to major depression.
  • Deprivation – not having what one needs or wants (especially if it’s basic necessities).
  • Social Isolation – being away from people for a long time (e.g. not going out for days, weeks, or months) can take a toll on your mind.
  • Personality Traits – certain traits, for instance: when you have low self-esteem, are pessimistic, or depend on other people a lot, you’re more at risk of developing depression.
  • Health Issues – if you have an existing physical or mental health condition, you’re likely to get depressed.
  • Addiction – alcohol and drug abuse can mess up your mental state.
  • Brain chemistry – recent studies show how changes in the function of brain chemicals involved in regulating mood play a role in depression.
  • Hormones – changes in the body’s hormone balance may cause or trigger depressive symptoms.
  • Genes – according to research, depression can be inherited; those who have a family history are more vulnerable.
  • Medication – some drugs taken for health conditions can induce depression. You need to ask your doctor about your medicine(s)’s side effects.

There are many more causes not listed here. Don’t attempt to diagnose yourself or someone even if you see the signs. Professional advice is necessary for sure diagnosis and right intervention.

MDD and Other Mental Health Conditions

A psychological condition can come with another. A depressive disorder can be comorbid with one or two other mental health disorders. These are a few you need to learn about:

MDD and Panic Disorder

Panic disorders involve overwhelming anxiety. People dealing with major depression usually experience anxiety, while those who have anxiety disorder can experience depression. Being depressed can make you anxious about a lot of things, for example. You can worry greatly about yourself and your life because of how depression limits you. If you have anxiety disorder, you can get depressed because of all your concerns.


Obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD is characterized by having recurrent intrusive thoughts. These thoughts can be very disturbing. Obsessions commonly revolve around fears of contracting a disease and doubts about doing certain things. Usual compulsive behavior include repetitive actions (repetitive hand-washing; checking appliances more than a few times). Obsession and compulsions are excessive, time-consuming, and unreasonable which can make the person develop depression overtime.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Also known as SAD, seasonal affective disorder is more than the winter blues. It’s a form of depression that lasts for a whole season, typically during winter–the weather is gloomy and people can’t go out a lot. Other people without this condition gets over the blues within a short period of time. Also, those who have SAD can experience sever depressive episodes that interfere with their daily life and relationships. If your winter blues have gone on for at least two years, you might have the disorder.


The best form of treatment for major depressive disorder is psychotherapy. Depending on your case, you can do it with or without medication. Rest assured that no matter what your treatment plan is, you can trust psychotherapy. Only a mental health professional can help you know what’s best for you. Many have already experienced overcoming mental health conditions like depression. All in all, it just takes the right intervention and ample support from those important to you.

Remember that there’s no need to hide your condition. A lot of people are also going through the same thing as you. No matter what you might hear from others, depression is a real thing that requires proper attention. Everyone who experiences any form of mental health condition deserves the help and support they need. Moreover, don’t forget that it’s possible to overcome.

It’s best to learn more information about depression and mdd if you think you or a loved one is experiencing it. There are many ways available both online and off to get the help you need (find the right kind of psychotherapy).

What do you think?

Written by Hannah Grace

A B.S. Psychology graduate who fights both real and imaginary shadows every day with music and words.

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