Depression is a serious mental illness that affects millions of people worldwide. While the symptoms may vary from person to person, some common signs of depression include feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness. If you or someone you know is struggling with these symptoms, it is important to seek help from a doctor as soon as possible. In this guide, we will discuss the basics of MDD diagnosis and treatment options available to those who suffer from this condition.
MDD, a common abbreviation for Major Depressive Disorder, is a mental illness that characterizes by persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness. While it is normal to feel down from time to time, people with MDD experience these symptoms for extended periods of time, often lasting for weeks or months at a time. In addition, people with MDD may also struggle with fatigue, changes in appetite, difficulty concentrating, and thoughts of suicide.
Depression is a mood disorder that has various types. Along with MDD, other types of depression include:
- Persistent Depressive Disorder: This type of depression is characterized by a low mood that lasts for at least two years. People with PDD may also experience other symptoms of depression, such as changes in appetite and sleep, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating.
- Bipolar Disorder: This disorder is characterized by periods of both mania and depression. During the manic phase, people with bipolar disorder may experience symptoms such as delusions of grandeur, decreased need for sleep, and risky behavior. The depressive phase is marked by the same symptoms as MDD.
- Seasonal Affective Disorder: This type of depression typically occurs during the winter months when there is less sunlight. People with SAD may experience symptoms such as fatigue, cravings for carbohydrates, and weight gain.
- Postpartum Depression: This type of depression occurs in new mothers after giving birth. Symptoms may include sadness, anxiety, and fatigue.
While all types of depression share some common symptoms, each type is unique and requires its own treatment plan.
Signs Of MDD
There are a number of different signs and symptoms that may be associated with MDD. It is important to keep in mind that everyone experiences these symptoms differently, and not everyone will experience all of the symptoms listed below. Some common signs of MDD include:
- Persistent feelings of sadness or emptiness
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Guilt or worthlessness
- Withdrawing from friends and family
- Isolating oneself from others
- Avoiding social activities
- Slipping performance at work or school
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities that were once enjoyed
- Thoughts of death or suicide
- Fatigue or decreased energy levels
- Changes in appetite or weight
- Insomnia or increased sleepiness
- Headaches or digestive problems that do not improve with treatment.
- Aches and pains with no known physical cause
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to seek help from a doctor as soon as possible.
The first step in treating MDD is making an accurate diagnosis. There are various ways that doctors can diagnose depression.
The most common method is through a clinical interview. During this interview, the doctor will ask you questions about your symptoms, medical history, and family history.
Some of the most common diagnostic tests for depression include:
Once the doctor has gathered all of this information, they will then make a diagnosis based on the criteria listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V). To be diagnosed with MDD, you must meet at least five of the following nine criteria:
-Depressed mood for most of the day, nearly every day
-Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities
-Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain, or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day
-Insomnia or hypersomnia nearly every day
-Psychomotor agitation or retardation nearly every day
-Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day
-Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt nearly every day
-Diminished ability to think or concentrate, and indecisiveness, nearly every day
-Recurrent thoughts of death, recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, a suicide attempt.
If you are experiencing five or more of these symptoms for two weeks or longer, you should seek help from a doctor as soon as possible.
There are also other kinds of psychological tests and assessments that can help with MDD diagnosis. These can include:
- Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression Scale (CES-D)
- Beck Depression Inventory (BDI)
- Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HRSD)
- Zung Self-Rating Depression Scale
- Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9)
All of these tests are designed to assess the severity of your symptoms and how they are impacting your life.
In addition to a psychological evaluation, your doctor may also recommend a physical exam. This is to rule out any other potential medical causes for your symptoms.
Your doctor will likely take your blood pressure, heart rate, and weight. They will also order blood tests to check for any underlying medical conditions that could be causing your symptoms.
There are various physiological conditions that can be an underlying cause of depression. These include:
- Thyroid problems
- Vitamin deficiencies
- Adrenal gland disorders
- Inflammatory conditions
Your physician may also run tests to detect these conditions for a more accurate MDD diagnosis.
There are also other types of physical tests that can be used to diagnose MDD. These can include:
- Electrocardiogram (ECG): This is to check for any underlying heart conditions that could be causing your symptoms.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): This can also help rule out any other potential causes for your symptoms, such as a stroke.
- Positron emission tomography (PET): This can help assess how well your brain is functioning.
- Computed tomography (CT): This can help rule out any other potential causes for your symptoms, such as a brain tumor.
These tests can help rule out other potential causes for your symptoms, such as a brain tumor or stroke.
Once MDD has been diagnosed, the next step is to begin treatment. The most common form of treatment for MDD is medication and/or psychotherapy.
There are a number of different types of medications that can be used to treat MDD. The most common type of medication used is antidepressants. Antidepressants work by correcting the chemical imbalance in the brain that is thought to be responsible for depression.
There are a variety of different antidepressants that are available, and it is important to work with your doctor to find the one that is right for you. Some common types of antidepressants include:
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
- Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
- Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs)
- Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
It is important to note that it can take several weeks for antidepressants to begin working. Also, you may need to try a few different types of antidepressants before finding the one that is right for you.
Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, is another common treatment for MDD. This approach is the most effective in combination with medication.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy that has been shown to be particularly effective in the treatment of depression. CBT works by helping you to change the negative thoughts and behaviors that associate with your depression.
Other types of psychotherapy that can be used to treat MDD include:
- Interpersonal therapy (IPT)
- Behavioral activation (BA)
- Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
- Psychodynamic therapy
- Electroconvulsive Therapy
In some cases, medication and psychotherapy are not enough to effectively treat MDD. When this occurs, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) may be recommended. ECT is a type of brain stimulation therapy that is used to treat severe cases of depression.
During ECT, electrical currents are passed through the brain to trigger a seizure. It is thought that this seizure can help to change the way the brain functions, which can lead to a reduction in symptoms.
ECT is typically used as a last resort when other treatment options have failed. This is because ECT can cause some side effects, such as memory loss and confusion.
In addition to medication and psychotherapy, there are also lifestyle changes that can be made to help treat MDD. These lifestyle changes include:
- Exercise: Exercise has been shown to be an effective treatment for depression. Exercise releases endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects. It also helps to reduce stress and improve sleep.
- Healthy diet: Eating a healthy diet is important for overall health, but it can also help to improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression.
- Adequate sleep: Getting enough sleep is important for overall health, but it can also help to reduce symptoms of depression. It is important to get at least seven to eight hours of sleep each night.
- Stress management: Managing stress can be difficult, but it is important for treating depression. There are a number of different stress management techniques that can be helpful, such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing exercises.
- Limiting exposure to technology: Exposure to technology has an impactful link to the increase in levels of stress and anxiety. If possible, try to limit your exposure to technology, especially before bedtime.
- Practicing self-care: Self-care is important for both physical and mental health. It can help to reduce stress, improve sleep, and boost mood. Some self-care activities include exercise, relaxation techniques, and spending time in nature.
- Support system: Having a strong support system is important for managing any chronic illness, including depression. Family and friends can provide emotional support and practical assistance when needed.
Depression is a serious condition that should not be taken lightly. If you think you may be suffering from MDD, it is important to see your doctor for an evaluation. With the proper diagnosis and treatment, MDD can be effectively managed.
In conclusion, MDD is a serious condition that has a significant impact on both physical and mental health. MDD is a treatable condition, but it often requires a combination of medication, psychotherapy, and lifestyle changes. If you think you may be suffering from MDD, it is important to see your doctor for an evaluation. With the proper diagnosis and treatment, MDD diagnosis can be the first step to recovery.
If you are looking for a reliable source for professional diagnosis or treatment for depression or any other mental health issues, don’t hesitate to reach out to Mantra Care. We have a team of expert mental health professionals offering the best quality psychological guidance and assistance. Our services are available globally at affordable rates with maximum effectiveness and confidentiality. You can visit our website to learn more or contact us to book a session or download our free Android or iOS app for more information!