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Major Depressive Disorder

You might think of Major Depressive Disorder as a persistent, heavy storm clouding the sky, obscuring the sun, and bringing about a gloomy atmosphere. Major depression casts a shadow over your mood, thoughts, and daily activities. This mental storm makes it hard to see the brightness in life, dampens enthusiasm, and can make every day feel overwhelmingly grey and exhausting.

However, just as the weather eventually clears, with appropriate treatment and support, the symptoms of depression can lift, allowing you to see brighter days ahead.

Overview: Major Depressive Disorder

Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), is characterised by a persistent feeling of sadness and a lack of interest in usual activity. It affects a person's thoughts, behaviours, physiological feelings, and general sense of well-being. Here are some key points about MDD:


Key symptoms include a deep feeling of sadness or a marked loss of interest or pleasure in activities. Other symptoms can include changes in appetite, sleep disturbances, fatigue, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, difficulty concentrating, and recurrent thoughts of death or suicide.


MDD can be caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors. Changes in brain chemistry, particularly in neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, are also linked to depression.

Risk Factors

Factors that can increase the risk of developing or triggering MDD include personal or family history of depression, major life changes, trauma, or stress, certain physical illnesses and medications.


Your GP will often be the first professional to consider this diagnosis. In addition to discussing your symptoms, they may have you complete a physical examination. They may also refer you to a specialist, such as a Clinical Psychologist and/or a Psychiatrist.

A Clinical Psychologist will complete a thorough diagnostic assessment via interview and questionnaire. They might ask you to keep some records while you’re at home. Taken together, the Clinical Psycholgoist will consider whether you meet diagnostic criteria for a formal diagnosis, and then treatment will proceed.

It's important to seek help early, as the sooner the symptoms are addressed, the better the likelihood of a positive outcome​


Treatment for MDD is usually best undertaken via CBT, or by CBT and medication. Antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), are commonly used. However, studies suggests that without psychological therapy, the benefit of medication can be limited. In some severe cases, other treatments like electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) may be considered.


It's important for anyone who thinks they might be experiencing symptoms of MDD to seek professional help. Depression is a common but serious illness, and it can have a significant impact on a person's life. However, with effective treatment, most people can recover.

Dysthymic Disorder

Dysthymic Disorder, also known as Persistent Depressive Disorder, is a chronic form of depression.

It's characterised by a consistently low mood, lasting for at least two years in adults or one year in children and adolescents.

Symptoms are less severe than in Major Depressive Disorder, but they are also more enduring. The symptoms include: feelings of sadness, hopelessness, fatigue, low self-esteem, and changes in sleep or appetite.

This long-term depression can significantly impact daily life, relationships, and overall functioning, often making it difficult to feel joy or satisfaction.

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