The Difference Between Depression and Major Depressive Disorder

The Difference Between Depression and Major Depressive Disorder

When you are experiencing depression, it can be unclear how severe your depression truly is. It may feel like you are in this black hole, wondering how far you can fall until you can no longer work through your symptoms without treatment. If you have ever experienced this feeling, it may be possible that you are not experiencing just depression. You may also be experiencing another mental health condition: major depressive disorder.

Major depressive disorder is a severe form of depression. Although common in the United States, many people go untreated or lack the necessary resources to receive treatment. Outpatient services like the ones offered by Alter Wellness Care can make all the difference when getting proper help for this condition.

What Is Depression?

Depression is a common mood disorder often labeled as serious or severe. Symptoms include not being able to function well in your daily life and a loss of interest in activities. To be diagnosed with a depressive disorder, your symptoms must last at least two weeks.

There are different forms of depression which include:

  • Major depressive disorder
  • Persistent depressive disorder
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
  • Depression with symptoms of psychosis

Even though depression may come with many symptoms, not everyone experiences all the symptoms of depression. Many times, depression is linked to other mental health disorders, such as bipolar disorder and anxiety disorders.

Depression vs. Major Depressive Disorder 

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), major depression is one of the most common mental health disorders in the United States. Major depressive disorder can limit one’s ability to carry out day-to-day activities. 

In a study done in 2020, 8.4% of adults experienced one major depressive episode. The results showed that major depressive disorder was higher among females and those ranging from 18 to 25 years old. 

Based on factors in daily life, psychological, physical, and emotional major depression can happen to a person at any time in their life. Major depressive disorder can be scary and can cause upheaval in your life when left undiagnosed.

There is a difference, however, between clinical depression and major depressive disorder. Major depressive disorder symptoms usually last longer and are more severe. If depression is caused because of upheaval in your life, this may mean that you are more likely to develop a major depressive disorder.

Unlike depression, major depressive disorder can be a long-lasting and even chronic condition. However, with treatments such as therapy and medication, you can learn to manage your symptoms to live a healthier life.

What Symptoms to Look For in Major Depressive Disorder

If you believe you are experiencing major depressive disorder, it is important to know what symptoms to look for. This way, you can tell your doctor how you are feeling. It can also help you identify what form of treatment you need to help you in your journey.

Symptoms of major depressive disorder include:

  • Feeling sad or “empty” consistently for more than half of the days
  • Decreased energy or focus and lack of sleep or oversleeping
  • Changes in the appetite of unplanned weight loss or weight gain
  • Difficulty concentrating or forgetting things
  • Suicide ideation or attempts

These are just some of the symptoms of major depressive disorder, and you don’t have to experience them all to be diagnosed with a depressive disorder.

Seeking Proper Treatment for Major Depressive Disorder

Sometimes, knowing where to turn for treatment can be challenging. However, knowing what to look for when seeking proper treatment for your major depressive disorder can help you in your search. When seeking treatment, know that you are not alone. There are programs that will work for you.

Talk Therapy for Depression

The most common form of treatment for major depressive disorder and other depressive disorders is talk therapy or psychotherapy. During this treatment, you can talk with a licensed mental health counselor or therapist and work out a plan to help you function in daily life.

You can also talk to a therapist during support group sessions. Support groups provide support and care to members by teaching them interpersonal skills through the shared experiences of other group members. These groups can be a great way to build a team of peers who support your journey as you support theirs.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) challenges you to change faulty thinking into positive reassurance. CBT helps you identify beliefs and thoughts that may be hindering you and leading you down the path to emotions of depression and actions that don’t serve your greater good.

Identifying these beliefs can help you understand why you may be going through depression and how to overcome some of your most severe symptoms. The goal of CBT is for you to develop the skills that will help you manage your depression symptoms in a healthy way.

Acceptance Therapy

This form of therapy helps you identify your beliefs and what you genuinely want from your life. The skills developed in this form of therapy include identifying the kinds of relationships you would like in your life. This therapy continues with a commitment to take the actions you need to bring fulfillment into your life. 

Having any form of depression is a difficult challenge. With the proper help and treatment plan, you can overcome your most severe symptoms and live a more fulfilling life. There is help and hope, and places like Alter Wellness Care are waiting to help you move forward with your life.

Treating your depression or major depressive disorder can be challenging if you do not know where to turn. However, Alter Wellness Care offers outpatient programs that can help you get the treatment you need. We offer programs such as CBT and DBT along with support groups that can help you reach your goals when overcoming this mental health condition. Our mission is to help adult clients reach their highest potential, and our devotion lies in helping our clients live healthier and happier lives. Reach out to Alter Wellness Care to learn more about our outpatient along with partial hospitalization programs that may be a good fit for you. Give our practice a call at (866) 311-3510

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