what is major depressive disorder?
definition and symptoms
by Jamal Ross
Major depression is a term we hear from time-to-time to describe a state where someone feels down for prolonged period of time. Social interactions and activities of daily living can be affected. As discussed previously, feelings of depression can be link to a medical condition, medication, menstruation, pregnancy, loss of a loved one or change in one’s environment. At other times, others may feel depressed and not quite know why. In this case, your doctor may be suspicious of a major depressive disorder. In the course of a lifetime, about 12% of individuals may be affected by depression worldwide. In the United States and Europe, about 18% of individuals may deal with major depression. (1) Over the next several blogs (podcast episodes), we will discover more about the symptoms of major depression and how we can use the bible to live a happier life and attack each symptom of this disease. Today, Let’s define major depressive disorder and list the symptoms.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is a book used by health care professionals to diagnose mental health conditions, including major depression. According the DSM-5, those with major depressive disorder have a depressed mood and a lack in the interest and pleasure in most, if not all, activities of life. A lack in the interest in the activities of life is called anhedonia. Other symptoms of depression include changes to eating habits, weight, sleep, energy level and concentration. There can also be thoughts of worthlessness or guilt. With extreme symptoms of depression, one may find themselves having thoughts of harming themselves or others. (2,3) Remember, these thoughts are not of God and should be rejected immediately. You have an amazing life to live and a God given purpose to fulfill.
Importantly, you can feel depressed without being depressed. In order words, feelings of depression do not necessarily mean one suffers from major depressive disorder. Major depression disorder is diagnosed when it predominates your mood greater than 50% of the time and persists for no less than two weeks. In essence, we all can feel “down in the dumps” from time to time, but major depression occurs when feelings of emptiness, sadness and depression fill your thoughts, impact your daily life, and last for a prolonged time.
Starting today, I want you to throw away the title of depression that has been placed upon you. Your heart will be filled with genuine joy and laughter. This does not mean you should stop taking your medication or speaking with a counselor. Instead, educate yourself on this disease while partnering with your healthcare team to defeat depression. Most importantly, arm yourself with the word of God as you place your full trust in Him. Remember, Jesus will bring you out of the darkness and break your chains into pieces. (See Psalm 107:14) We claim our victory today for the battle we will win over depression in the future!
1. Krishnan R. Unipolar depression in adults: Epidemiology. In: UpToDate, Solomon D. (Eds), UpToDate, Waltham, MA (Assessed July 27, 2022)
2. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.)
3. Jeffrey M Lyness. Patient Education Depression in Adults (Beyond the Basics) Tests for screening for colorectal cancer. In: UpToDate, Peter PRB & David S. (Eds), UpToDate, Waltham, MA