Major Depressive Disorder

.What is Major Depressive Disorder?

Prevalence and Common Symptoms

Major depressive disorder and its prevalence and common symptoms. It is often difficult to estimate the prevalence of depression. Rates differ widely between countries and are often associated with large-scale events or circumstances. For example, countries with longer and more severe winters generally have higher rates of depression.

Currently, a big compounding factor globally is the COVID-19 pandemic and its ongoing unfoldment. Long periods of isolation under lockdown, changes in how people work and socialize. There is an increased level of fear and paranoia. Also economic instability and the widespread loss of income faced by enormous amounts of business owners and their employees have all taken their toll on our collective mental and physical health.

The World Health Organization (2017) indicates that depression and anxiety are the two most common mental health disorders–and the most prevalent causes of disability–in the world today, with estimates of close to 5% of the global population being affected. This translates to more than 322 million people in 2017. The official figures show that depression is more common among women (affecting just over 5%) than in men (affecting 3.6%), but a growing number of experts are questioning these figures, citing some other factors that contribute to a perceived lower prevalence rate in men, such as a significant level of under-reporting by men (World Health Organization, 2017). Indeed, research shows that men are far less likely to seek help for any health condition, including a mental health condition such as depression than women are. (American Psychological Association, 2005).


What is Major Depressive Disorder?

It is worth mentioning the most common anxiety disorders, as they are so closely related to depression. Anxiety disorders often co-occur with depression, symptoms of the two conditions may overlap greatly, and one often drives and compounds the other. Common anxiety conditions include Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), panic disorder, phobias, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). A medical professional may look for anxiety symptoms such as panic attacks or compulsive and obsessive behaviors when diagnosing depression. More than 264 million people worldwide suffer from an anxiety disorder, with the number showing an increase of almost 15% in the decade between 2005 and 2015 (World Health Organization, 2017).

Older age groups are more commonly diagnosed. It has the prevalence among women rising to 7.5% (from 5.1%) and to more than 5.5% (from 3.6%) among men after the age of 55 years. People who suffer from other health conditions, ranging from manageable chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes to terminal conditions such as cancer, are also much more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety. It is furthermore troubling to note that depression has become more than 18% more pervasive in the ten years between 2005 and 2015 (World Health Organization, 2017).

When consulting with a medical professional about your suspected depression, you will be examined. The doctor will look for signs of hallucination or delusion which may present as extreme anxiety. A belief that you are ill when you are not, high levels of agitation, and sleeplessness. You will be asked if you have any suicidal thoughts (or ideation), and/or extreme mood swings. If you suspect that someone close to you is suffering from depression you may notice:

  • an increase in their use of alcohol or other substances
  • changes in their eating and sleeping habits
  • withdrawal from other people and social activities
  • attempts to isolate themselves from the outside world
  • an increased recklessness and engagement with danger

Major Depressive Disorder

It is furthermore important to tell your doctor when you first started noticing that something wasn’t quite right with you. Also the extent to which your symptoms are interfering with your daily life. Tell them if you have any other mental health difficulties. Also if you have any relatives who suffer from mental health problems.

Additionally, chronic melancholia and frequent bouts of crying may be obvious, and there may be changes in physical condition such as muscle- and joint stiffness, chronic pain, digestive disturbances, and impaired psychomotor functioning often manifesting as slowed speech and movement (Schimelpfening, 2020).  If you are concerned about a loved one and they are unwilling to seek help watch their level of apathy. It may complicate your efforts to get them to the doctor.

You may also look out for suicidal behaviors such as:

  • Activities that indicate a plan to commit suicide
  • Getting affairs in order,
  • Attempts to acquire the means with which to commit suicide
  • Talking a lot about death.

There are other major warning signs of  underlying depression that your healthcare provider may look for. These include:

  • Sudden or big changes in weight
  • Visible physical restlessness
  • An inability to concentrate or make decisions
  • Lack of concern over personal hygiene