Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)
Defined as a depressed
mood or loss of interest and pleasure in almost all activities for at least a
period of two weeks. Several other symptoms must also be present. These include
sleep disturbances, appetite disturbances, change in energy levels,
difficulties thinking and concentrating, and sexual difficulties. These
symptoms interfere with usual behaviour and functioning.
many of the same symptoms as those for a MDD are
present, but they tend to be less severe and interfere less with immediate
functioning. They are, however, chronic and may continue for years so that the
sufferer seldom feels really happy and cannot enjoy life. Due to the long-term
impairment of functioning, many do not realise their full potential. Dysthymia
can therefore have severe long-term consequences and be severely
Used to be called manic depression. This
is much less common than the two previously mentioned depressive disorders with
about 2.5% of the population affected. Males
and females are affected equally. This type of depressive disorder involves
episodes of depression and episodes of mania/euphoria.The switches between
these two states may be fairly sudden and dramatic, but are more commonly
gradual in onset.
Both mood states may co-exist – mixed bipolar disorder. During episodes of
mania, judgement is often impaired and this can result in socially embarrassing
behaviour, sexual indiscretions, excessive spending and unwise business
decisions. Bipolar disorder tends to be a chronic, recurring condition and is
generally considered to have a poorer long-term outcome than Major Depressive
types of depressive illness include:
Minor Depressive Disorder
Same duration, but less severe
symptoms than MDD.
Recurrent Brief Depressive Disorder
Same symptoms as MDD,
but episodes last less than two weeks.
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
symptoms that occur during the last week before menstruation for at least one
Depression following childbirth,
more severe and of longer duration than transient "Baby Blues".
Depressive Disorders may also be related to drug and alcohol abuse as well as
to prescription drug usage (Substance Induced Mood Disorders) and to medical
illnesses (Mood Disorder Due to a General Medical Condition.
What is depression?
Symptoms of depression
Risk factors of depression
Reviewed by Zane Wilson, South African
Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG), March 2015.
(Previously reviewed by Dr Stefanie van
Vuuren, Psychiatrist, MB ChB (Stell), M Med (Psig) (Stell), FC (Psych) SA, May