Major Depressive Disorder, or sometimes referred to as depression, is a mental health disorder characterized by sadness, difficulties initiating or maintaining sleep, changes in appetite, poor concentration, diminished energy levels, decreased interest in activities previously found pleasurable, feelings of extreme hopelessness or guilt, motor retardation, and suicidal thinking. Usually, depressive symptoms occur nearly every day for a period of two weeks. Approximately 8% of people in the United States experience a major depressive episode within the course of their lifetime (NAMI, 2021). For some, depressive episodes can occur more than once in a lifetime. In young children, depression might present as irritability and somatic complaints, such as headaches and stomach aches, are common symptoms. Without treatment, symptoms might persist for months to years.
Some individuals are more vulnerable to depressive symptoms due to genetics. Environmental stressors including the death of a loved one, the loss a job, or other major life-alerting conditions could prompt depressive symptoms. Cognitive behavioral therapies aim to increase a client’s level of motivation, daily activity level, and relationship between thoughts and emotions. Psychotherapy in conjunction with medication management services have yielded positive treatment outcomes. For more information on depression, visit NIMH » Depression (nih.gov).