Major depressive disorder is a serious mental illness that's characterized by persistent blue moods, low self-esteem, and a lack of pleasure in things you've always enjoyed. If you suffer from this illness, you may have trouble doing everyday things and feel that life is not worth living.

We all get the blues sometimes, but major depressive disorder is the blues on a whole other level. This is when it's so bad you need to see a doctor. The common symptoms of major depressive disorder include:

  • A persistently low mood that lasts for days or weeks
  • Lack of interest in all of the things you enjoy doing
  • Insomnia, oversleeping or other sleep disorders
  • Lack of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Thoughts of death and suicide
  • In several cases hallucinations, delusions and other symptoms of psychosis

What Causes Depression?

There is no one cause that's been identified. It's generally agreed that there are genetic, biological and environmental factors at play. Studies show that people with family members who suffer from depressive disorder are more likely to suffer from the condition as well. It's also been shown that abnormal brain chemistry is a factor. Traumatic life events can also cause depression, although it's not clear if these events simply trigger a tension that's already there.

Treating Major Depressive Disorder

If you suffer from blues that just will not go away, the first step is to talk to your doctor. They'll determine whether or not your condition is serious. Usually, major depressive disorder is diagnosed if you've suffered from depression regularly for two weeks or longer. They'll also look for ways your depression has affected other areas of your life negatively.

The most effective treatment is therapy. Through therapy, you learn to value yourself and enjoy the good things in life. You get back into the swing of things. You'll also learn effective coping strategies to help you deal with your low moments and stresses.

There are several different approaches used for treating depression. One is cognitive therapy, which focuses on your thought processes. The cognitive approach looks at your patterns of thinking and helps you examine them. You look at your negative self-beliefs closely and learn to recognize that they're not valid. Through changing these patterns, you learn to love yourself.

Interpersonal therapy is also often used for depression. Social isolation goes hand in hand with depression, and interpersonal therapy helps you re-learn how to relate to others. You also draw support from them and recognize that you're not alone.

There are also medical treatments that can stop the symptoms of depression. These are antidepressants and they're usually only used in severe cases where your depression is simply debilitating.

If you suffer from a low mood that will not go away, you're not alone. You may suffer from major depressive disorder. The good news is that it's fully treatable and many people just like you have gone on to live happy and productive lives.