Major depressive disorder (MDD) is diagnosed when an individual has a persistently low or depressed mood, along with other symptoms such as a loss of interest in pleasurable activities, feelings of worthlessness, and poor concentration. MDD affects how a person feels, thinks, and behaves and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. You can learn more about the symptoms of MDD and what you can do to help someone with MDD below.
Symptoms of MDD
Major depressive disorder, also referred to as clinical depression or, more simply, depression, is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. It is more than just a bout of the blues, it affects how someone feels, thinks, and behaves and may require long-term treatment.People with MDD may feel generally miserable or unhappy without really understanding why. They may find it difficult carrying out normal day-to-day activities and may sometimes feel as if life isn’t worth living.
During an episode, symptoms are usually severe enough to cause noticeable problems in day-to-day activities, such as work, school, social activities, or relationships with others. Symptoms typically occur most of the day and nearly every day, and can include:
- Low mood – feelings of worthlessness, sadness, tear fullness, emptiness, hopelessness, guilt, or self-blame
- Anhedonia (the reduced ability to experience pleasure) or a loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities, such as hobbies, sports, or sex
- Psychomotor retardation – the slowing down (or hindering) of mental or physical activities, such as in the form of slowed thinking, speaking, or body movements
- Lack of energy and tiredness, meaning even small tasks take extra effort
- Poor concentration and trouble thinking, making decisions, and remembering things
- Appetite changes, such as a reduced appetite and weight loss or increased food cravings and weight gain
- Agitation, anxiety, restlessness, irritability, angry outbursts, or frustration, even over small matters
- Fixating on past failures
- Changing sleep habits,including insomnia, disturbances, or sleeping too much
- Unexplained physical problems, such as headaches or back pain
- Suicidal thoughts, thoughts of death, suicide attempts
Depression symptoms in children and teenagers are similar to those of adults, but there can be some differences, such as:
- Aches and pains
- Being underweight
- Refusing to go to school, poor performance, or poor attendance at school
- Feeling misunderstood and extremely sensitive
- Using recreational drugs or alcohol
- Eating or sleeping too much
- Loss of interest in normal activities
- Avoidance of social interaction
How to Help Someone with MDD
The first step in helping a loved one who is struggling with MDD is to recognize the symptoms. It may be depression if your loved one is showing persistent symptoms(that do not appear to go away after several days or weeks). It is important to understand that MDD isn’t a weakness or a mood someone can simply “snap out” of.
People with MDD may not always be aware that they are going through a depressive episode. It can help to have family or friends who are aware of the signs and are willing to reach out and encourage them to talk about their feelings, seek a professional diagnosis, and get treatment. MDD rarely gets better on its own without treatment, and symptoms may get worse the longer it is left untreated.
The most important things to remember when talking to someone about depression are:
- To listen, be compassionate, and nonjudgmental. Simply giving someone space to talk, and by listening to how they’re feeling, can be really beneficial in itself. If they’re finding it difficult, let them know that you’re there when they are ready to talk.
- Be open about depression. A lot of people find it hard to open up and speak about how they’re feeling. Try to be open about depression and difficult emotions, so your loved one knows that it’s okay to talk about what they’re experiencing.
- Stay calm. It can be upsetting to hear that someone you care about is distressed, but try to keep calm. This will help your loved one feel calmer, and reassure them that they can talk to you openly without upsetting you.
- Try not to make assumptions about what may have caused their feelings, or what will help them.
- Be patient. Although you may want to know more details about their thoughts and feelings, or want them to get immediate help, it’s important to try to let them set the pace for seeking support themselves (unless you are concerned they may cause harm to themselves or others, which will require immediate intervention).
- Support them to seek professional help. Assure your loved one that it’s okay to ask for help, and that there is effective help available.
- Offer reassurance. Seeking professional help can feel lonely and daunting. Reassure your loved one that they are not alone and that you will be there to support them.
- Try to keep things as normal as possible, such as involving them in social events and chatting about other things going on in your lives.
Where to Go for Professional Support
People with depression may be reluctant to seek help or not feel their condition is significant enough to require treatment. However, delaying treatment can make the condition worse. To diagnose MDD, a psychiatric assessment with a licensed psychiatrist is typically required, which focuses on symptoms, thoughts, feelings, and behavior patterns. A physical examination along with other tests may also be necessary to ensure the depression is not linked to an underlying physical health problem.
In order to treat depression successfully, it may require long-term treatment. The good news is that there are a range of effective, evidence-based treatments that can help with MDD. Most people with MDD can feel better with treatments such as medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of treatments.
Mental health services, such as EPIC Health Partners LLC, provide therapeutic interventions, using evidence-based practices to support individuals who are experiencing a wide range of emotional and psychological difficulties. They have a team of staff, including licensed psychiatrists, professional counselors, social workers, and dedicated supporting staff, to provide person-centered care and effectively meet the needs of the individual.
Major Depressive Disorder Treatment in North Chesterfield, VA
If your loved one is exhibiting symptoms of MDD, contact EPIC Health Partners LLC. We are a community-based behavioral health facility that provides adults and children with mental and behavioral health assessments and services. We offer clinic-based and community-based services, as well as telepsychiatry services.
Our team of professional counselors, social workers, and dedicated supporting staff provides care that focuses on the unique needs of each client. We offer a comprehensive range of mental health services, including psychiatric services, outpatient therapy, mental health skill building, addiction recovery and treatment services (ARTS), community stabilization, and intensive in-home services to enable individuals to lead a positive and rewarding life.
To learn more about our services, call EPIC Health Partners today at (434) 835-4601. You can also use our convenient and secure Request an Appointment form. For your convenience, services are available in all three of our locations in Danville, Martinsville, and Richmond.