Decoding Clinical Talk: What is Depressive Disorder?
Being diagnosed with depressive disorder can be a scary moment.
You may have a lot of concerns and questions. In fact, the first question may be: “What is a depressive disorder?”
Several conditions fall under the “depressive disorder” umbrella. Depressive disorder is the clinical term used when reporting the severity, duration, and type of depression.
According to Psychology Today, “A depressive disorder is not the same as a passing blue mood.” People with a depressive illness cannot merely ‘pull themselves together’ and get better. Without treatment, symptoms can last for weeks, months, or years. Depression is a common but serious illness, and most people who experience it need treatment to get better.
Depression symptoms include loss of interest in enjoyable activities, changing sleep patterns, restlessness, feeling worthless, trouble concentrating, or thoughts of suicide. If you experience these symptoms for longer than two weeks, you may be diagnosed with a depressive disorder.
Types of Depressive Disorders
Major depressive disorder (MDD) is also called clinical depression. According to healthline: “MDD is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States. In 2015, nearly 7 percent of Americans over age 18 had an episode of MDD.”
Persistent depressive disorder (PDD) describes an ongoing, chronic form of depression that can last for months-to-years, according to the Mayo Clinic. Sometimes called dysthymia, symptoms of PDD are similar but less severe and longer lasting than MDD.
Major depression can happen for patients already experiencing persistent depression. The Mayo Clinic refers to this as “double depression.”
Other forms of depressive disorder can severely impact quality of life:
- Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that occurs during a specific time of year, typically during winter months;
- Psychotic depression is depression with psychotic episodes like hallucinations, delusions, or paranoia;
- Postpartum depression is a major depressive disorder onset in the weeks and months following childbirth;
- Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder is diagnosed in children and adolescents;
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is associated with severe depression symptoms, irritability, and tension as hormone levels fall following ovulation
If you’re experiencing persistent mild, moderate, or severe symptoms of depression, or depression symptoms due to situational factors, you should seek medical help immediately.
Causes of Depressive Disorder
There is no single cause of depressive disorder. Biological factors, genetics, hormones, life events, etc. can all play a role.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, risk factors include:
- Personal or family history of depression;
- Major life changes, trauma, or stress;
- Certain physical illnesses and medications.
Coping with Depressive Disorder
Preventing depression can be difficult if not impossible. Several strategies can help you manage depressive symptoms. First, recognizing the signs of depression in yourself and seeking immediate help is critical. Limiting stress and talking about your mental health with family and friends can also help relieve pressure and self-doubt.
Once you understand which form of depressive disorder you or a loved one are facing, you can talk with your doctor about the next steps toward treatment. There are also many self-help tips for managing depressive disorder on the GeneSight blog. Read more at https://genesight.com/blog/patient/4-ways-to-keep-your-depression-symptoms-in-check/
Our articles are for informational purposes only and are reviewed by our Medical Information team, which includes PharmDs, MDs, and PhDs. Do not make any changes to your current medications or dosing without consulting your healthcare provider.
The GeneSight test must be ordered by and used only in consultation with a healthcare provider who can prescribe medications. As with all genetic tests, the GeneSight test results have limitations and do not constitute medical advice. The test results are designed to be just one part of a larger, complete patient assessment, which would include proper diagnosis and consideration of your medical history, other medications you may be taking, your family history, and other factors.
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