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Major Depression is one of the commonly reported mood disorders in the United States. People who suffer major depression may experience severe and persistent low mood, irritability, profound sadness, or a sense of despair. The mood can sometimes appear as irritable. These feelings often affect how one feel, think, sleep, work, eat and handle day-to-day activities. If you have these symptoms, and they have become persistent and non-relieving for the past two weeks, it may be time to see your healthcare provider to discuss more.

Major Depression may be experienced in many different situations including but not limited to:

Dysthymia: People with dysthymia often report chronic feelings of sadness or “feeling down in the dumps”. The chronic and persistent feelings of depression with loss of interest in usual activities, low self-esteem, hopelessness, poor concentrations/productivity, etc., have significant impact socio-occupational functioning, education, relationship, and overall functioning. People with dysthymia may have periods of less severe symptoms, but they often find it difficult to feel “upbeat” even in those good times and so may be perceived as gloomy or pessimistic. They would present symptoms for at least a period of two years to be considered as dysthymia.

Post-Partum Depression: This is more than complaints of “baby blues” often reported by women in the post-partum period. This type of depression often accompanies feelings of extreme sadness, emptiness, flat, hopeless, anxiety, and exhaustion that women experience during pregnancy or shortly after delivery. These feelings affect overall daily functioning, caring for oneself, and the baby.

Psychotic Depression: People with psychotic depression often report seeing things or hearing voices (hallucinations) that are not real to other people, and or may have fixed false believe in things (delusions) that are not real to others. When psychotic symptoms occur, they are usually congruent to mood with typical depressive themes such as deserving of punishment, personal inadequacy, or death; or they may be non-congruent to mood meaning that they are presenting with non-depressive themes. Typically, the psychotic symptoms have a depressive “theme,” such as delusions of guilt, poverty, or illness.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): Some people experience changes in their mood and affect with seasonal changes and may feel “down” during shorter days in the Fall and Winter months (winter blues) this is known as winter-pattern SAD or winter depression. However, some may experience depressive episodes during the spring and summer months; this is called summer-pattern SAD or summer depression and is less common. For some symptoms may be mild, and other may have serious symptoms that affects the way they think, feel, perform their jobs, and impact on their relationships. For Winter-pattern SAD, additional specific symptoms may include Oversleeping (hypersomnia), Overeating, particularly with a craving for carbohydrates, Weight gain, Social withdrawal (feeling like “hibernating”). For Summer-pattern SAD may include Trouble sleeping (insomnia), Poor appetite, leading to weight loss, Restlessness and agitation, Anxiety, Episodes of violent behavior. If you have carefully observed these changes in mood that are seasonal, it may be important to discuss this further with your provider.

Bipolar Depression: People with bipolar disorder have extremes of mood changes. In depression, they may present with depressed most of the day, nearly every day, and may express feelings of sadness, emptiness, hopelessness (in children and adolescents it can be irritable mood), loss of interest in pleasurable activities, changes in weight appetite, and sleep, feelings of worthlessness, poor concentrations, etc. In mania, they may present with extreme highly elevated expansive, and or irritable mood.

Signs and Symptoms include but not limited to:

1) Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day, as indicated by either subjective report (eg, feels sad, empty, hopeless)

2) Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day (as indicated by either subjective account or observation).

3) Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain (e.g, a change of more than 5 percent of body weight in a month) or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day.

4) Insomnia or hypersomnia nearly every day.

5) Feelings of restlessness or being slowed down nearly every day.

6) Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day.

7) Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt (which may be delusional) nearly every day (not merely self-reproach or guilt about being sick).

8) Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day

9) Recurrent thoughts of death (not just fear of dying), recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide.

10) Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and/or that do not ease even with treatment.

Your risk factors might include but not limited to:

  • Personal or family history of depression
  • Major life changes, trauma, or stress
  • Certain physical illnesses and medications

If you or your loved one is having suicide thoughts. Please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text the Crisis Text Line (text HELLO to 741741TTY: 1-800-799-4889.  Or Call 911, or go the Nearest Emergency Room.

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DISCLAIMER: This information here (regardless of date or topic) is not a specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. This is only a brief summary of general information. It does NOT include all information about conditions, illnesses, injuries, tests, procedures, treatments, therapies, discharge instructions or life-style choices that may apply to you. You must talk with your health care provider for complete information about your health and treatment options. This information should not be used to decide whether or not to accept your health care provider’s advice, instructions or recommendations. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to provide advice that is right for you.