Major depressive disorder (MDD), an illness which is also known in the international medical professional community under the names recurrent depressive disorder, clinical depression, major depression, unipolar depression, or unipolar disorder, is a mental disorder which is generally characterized by a steadily recurrent (or seemingly permanent) series of negative moods, frequently experienced alongside feelings of low self esteem (poor body image, abandonment of typical hygiene procedures, etc.), and by a marked loss of interest in formerly pleasurable activities such as sports, church going, or even sexual intercourse with a spouse or loved one. According to the American Psychiatric Association, major depressive disorder, as a particularly troubling cluster of symptoms (commonly referred to in the profession as a “syndrome”) was first medically defined, fully characterized, and classified as a mood disorder in 1980, and has retained that designation to the present day.
- Major Depressive Disorder
MDD is known as a seriously disabling complex of symptoms which possesses the power to cause serious harm to an individual’s ability to interact and coexist successfully within the circle of his/her family, friends, and work place fellows. Major depressive disorder can also seriously impair one’s school life, habits concerning eating, sleeping, and love making, as well as one’s own general health (damage to one’s self esteem or body image can lead to neglect of hygiene as well as emerging issues with digestion or menstruation, among others). In the United States alone, some 3.4% of individuals suffering from major depressive disorder routinely commit suicide. As a corollary, an estimated 60% of those who commit suicide suffer from major depressive disorder or another, related mood disorder syndrome.
Diagnosis Of Major Depressive Disorder
Initial diagnosis and accompanying treatment of MDD is routinely based upon the individual patient’s self-declared experiences (as confided to a doctor or psychiatrist), as well as behavioral testimony contributed by relatives or reliable others (close friends, employers, the family clergyman, etc.). No laboratory test in “controlled” conditions has yet been codified as ironclad medical procedure, but physicians will generally perform several series of tests in order to rule out purely physical conditions which may cause similar symptoms, thus avoiding an incorrect diagnosis of depressive disorder where none is mandated. However, if MDD remains undetected during its pivotal early stages, such rigorous and necessarily extended treatment may result in a markedly slow recovery, and may even adversely affect the physical health of the sufferer. The medical profession has, in recent years, adopted such standardized screening programs such as the Major Depression Inventory in order to provide a useful and reliable tool to detect MDDr. Seemingly, the most common time of onset of this disorder tends to lie between the ages of 20 and 30 years, with a later “peak” between the ages of 30 and 40 years.
Major Depressive Disorder Continues To Be Studied
A comprehensive medical understanding of the precise nature and attributable causes of major depressive disorder has evolved over the centuries. However, this comprehension remains incomplete, and there is much room for continued discussion, experimentation, theorizing, and research.