Major Depression – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Major depression is characterized by a persistent sad mood and/or an inability to experience pleasure. These symptoms are constant, interfering with the ability to lead a productive and enjoyable life. Left untreated, a major depressive episode typically lasts for about six months. Some people may experience just a single episode of depression in their lifetime, but more commonly, major depression is a recurring disorder. Depression is perhaps the most common of all mental health problems, currently felt to affect one in every four adults to some degree. Depression is a problem with mood/feeling in which the mood is described as sad, feeling down in the dumps, being blue, or feeling low. While the depressed mood is present, evidence is also present which reflects the neurochemical or “brain chemistry” aspects of depression with the depressed individual experiencing poor concentration/attention, loss of energy, accelerated thought/worry, sleep/appetite disturbance, and other physical manifestations.

Depression is a common word but is frequently misunderstood. We use it all the times when we mean felling low or down, even when such feelings might be short-lived. Defining depression is useful because it helps to set some boundaries around the common ups and downs of mood that we all suffer and which are part of normal life, and those disturbances in our mood that have a deeper significance. Depression is a normal response to loss or misfortune. Depression is abnormal when it is out of proportion to the misfortune or unduly prolonged. Depressive mood is closely coupled with other changes, notably a lowering of self-esteem, self-criticism, and pessimistic thinking. For many victims of depression, these mental and physical feelings seem to follow them night and day, appear to have no end, and are not alleviated by happy events or good news. Some people are so disabled by feelings of despair that they cannot even build up the energy.

Causes of Major Depression


2.Genetic predisposition.

3.Psychological factors.

4.Imbalances of neurotransmitters in the brain.

5.Alcohol and other drugs.

Symptoms of Major Depression

1.Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that were once enjoyed, including sex.

2.Decreased energy, fatigue, being “slowed down.

3.Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions.

4.Insomnia, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping.

5.Appetite and/or weight loss or overeating and weight gain.

6.Thoughts of death or suicide; suicide attempts .

7.Restlessness, irritability.


Treatment of Major Depression

There are many different treatment options for depression. The most common approach involves some type of psychotherapy, antidepressant medication, or a combination of the two.
Psychotherapy for depression, you are taught the facts about your depressive disorder and how to manage it. Working with a mental health professional, you will learn how to cope with negative feelings, identify and change distorted thinking patterns, improve your relationships with others, and deal with problems constructively. You may also explore the underlying causes of your depression. Talk therapy can be pursued in an individual, group, couples, or family setting. SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) antidepressants such as Prozac are the most commonly prescribed type. Antidepressants typically take up to 4-6 weeks to reach their full effectiveness. Drug treatment may cause unwanted side effects, so educating yourself about your medication and its risks is important.

Monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors such as isocarboxazid (Marplan). MAO inhibitors block the enzymatic degradation of norepinephrine and serotonin. Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) such as amitriptyline. TCAs are the most widely used class of antidepressant drugs. They prevent the reuptake of norepinephrine or serotonin (or both) into the presynaptic nerve endings, resulting in increased synaptic concentrations of these neurotransmitters. Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is useful, particularly for individuals whose depression is severe or life threatening or who cannot take antidepressant medication. Psychiatric hospitalization is used simply to keep suicidal people safe until they cease to be dangers to themselves. Another treatment program is partial hospitalization, in which the patient sleeps at home but spends the day, either five or seven days a week, in a psychiatric hospital setting in intense treatment.