Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Major Depressive Disorder Overview

Another name for Major Depressive Disorder is Major Depression.

What is major depression?
Major depression is the most serious kind of depression. It is characterized by a constant depressed mood and loss of interest in all activities that lasts for at least two weeks. A person with depression has prolonged feelings of intense sadness of grief that interfere with a person's ability to carry out normal activities. The exact cause of depression is unknown. The brain makes chemicals, called neurotransmitters, which relay messages between brain cells. Those who have depression tend to have abnormal levels of certain neurotransmitters in the brain.

What are the symptoms of major depression?
Common symptoms of major depression include difficulty sleeping, hopelessness, irritability, decreased enjoyment from usual activities, and self-disappointment. Other symptoms include anxiety, anorexia, weight loss, fatigue, guilt, and difficulty concentrating. Severe depression may be accompanied by suicidal thoughts.

How does the doctor treat major depression?
Treatment of major depression includes mental health counseling, support group, and medications. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI), selective serotonin and norepinephrine uptake inhibitors (SSNRI) and tricyclic antidepressants are the most commonly prescribed medications to treat major depression.

Continue to Major Depressive Disorder Symptoms

Last Updated: Jan 14, 2011 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Major Depressive Disorder References
  1. Badamgarav E, Weingarten SR, Henning JM, Knight K, Hasselblad V, Gano A Jr, Ofman JJ. Effectiveness of disease management programs in depression: a systematic review. Am J Psychiatry. 2003 Dec;160(12):2080-90. [14638573]
  2. Bair MJ, Robinson RL, Katon W, Kroenke K. Depression and pain comorbidity: a literature review. Arch Intern Med. 2003 Nov 10;163(20):2433-45. [14609780]
  3. Barrett B, Byford S, Knapp M. Evidence of cost-effective treatments for depression: a systematic review. J Affect Disord. 2005 Jan;84(1):1-13. [15620380]
  4. Neumeyer-Gromen A, Lampert T, Stark K, Kallischnigg G. Disease management programs for depression: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Med Care. 2004 Dec;42(12):1211-21. [15550801]
  5. Remick RA. Diagnosis and management of depression in primary care: a clinical update and review. CMAJ. 2002 Nov 26;167(11):1253-60. [1245108]
  6. Wulsin LR. Is depression a major risk factor for coronary disease? A systematic review of the epidemiologic evidence. Harv Rev Psychiatry. 2004 Mar-Apr;12(2):79-93. [15204803]
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