Major depressive disorder (MDD) also referred to depression or clinical depression, is a common mental health disorder that is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) depression affects nearly ten percent of the general population in America. Major depression is characterized by persistent sadness and a lack of interest or pleasure in previously rewarding or enjoyable activities resulting in significant impairment in one’s daily life. It will affect every facet of one’s life including how a young person thinks, feels, and behaves.
DSM-5 Diagnostic Criteria
The American Academy of Family Physicians explains that the “diagnostic criteria for depression in children and adolescents are essentially the same as those for adults; however, symptom expression may vary with developmental stage, and some children and adolescents may have difficulty identifying and describing internal mood states.” To be diagnosed with major depressive disorder, an individual’s symptoms must fit the criteria outlined in the DSM-5. A young person must be experiencing five or more of the following symptoms during the same 2-week period and at least one of the symptoms should be either (1) depressed mood or (2) loss of interest or pleasure:
- Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day.
- Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day.
- Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day.
- A slowing down of thought and a reduction of physical movement (observable by others, not merely subjective feelings of restlessness or being slowed down).
- Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day.
- Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day.
- Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day.
- Recurrent thoughts of death, recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide.
These symptoms must cause the person clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. The symptoms must also not be a result of substance abuse or another medical condition. The combination and severity of symptoms will be specific and unique to everyone.
For Information and Support
Every family in need of mental health treatment must select a program that will best suit the needs of their family. When one member of a family struggles, it impacts everyone in the family unit. To maximize the benefits of treatment we work closely with the entire family to ensure that everyone is receiving the support they need through these difficult times.
Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know needs mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person’s life, long term. Pursuing support at the beginning of one’s journey can put the individual in the best position to learn how to manage themselves in a healthy way so they can go on to live happy and fulfilling lives.
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