What is major depressive disorder? Major depressive disorder is a psychiatric disorder documented in the DSM. Major depressive disorder interferes with an individual's normal functioning in everyday life and causes pain to the person with this disorder and to those close to the person. Individuals with major depressive disorder cannot just "pull themselves out" of this depression on their own and the symptoms accompanied with this disorder can last for weeks, months, and even years (Butcher, Mineka, and Hooley, 2013, p. 221-22). Recognizing the symptoms is critical because most people need treatment to get better.
As with other mental disorders, there are special ethical issues to take into consideration. When an individual's psychological behavior poses a threat to themselves or others, protective confinement may be initiated, depending on state laws (Butcher et al. 2013, p. 610-14). Additionally, there is an assessment of dangerousness that is taken into consideration as well as "the duty to protect" factors (Butcher et al. 2013, p. 610-14). In most states, a clinician can violate a confidentiality agreement and take action to protect an individual from being harmed by the patient, if such a threat is present (Butcher et al. 2013, p. 610-14).
What are the symptoms associated with major depressive disorder? At least one of two symptoms that must be present include a significantly depressed mood and diminished interest in pleasant activities, which occurs nearly every day, in the same two week period (Butcher et al. 2013, p. 221-22). Additional symptoms may include feelings of guilt and worthlessness, significant weight loss, weight gain, physical agitation, loss of energy, and suicidal thoughts (Butcher et al. 2013, p. 221-22). These symptoms can be self acknowledged or acknowledged by others. Lastly, more obvious emotional symptoms may also be present.
What are the psychological theories and how are they applied to help explain the disorder? Freud, along with Karl Abraham (1927), “hypothesized that when a loved one dies the mourner regresses to the oral stage of development (when the infant cannot distinguish self from others) and introjects or incorporates the lost person, feeling all the same feelings toward the self as toward the lost person” (Butcher et al. 2013, p. 232). “This is what led to the psychodynamic idea that depression is anger turned inward” (Butcher et al. 2013, p. 232). Based on Beck’s cognitive model of depression (1967), “certain kinds of early experiences can lead to the formation of dysfunctional assumptions that leave a person vulnerable to depression later in life if certain critical incidents (stressors) activate those assumptions” (Butcher et al. 2013, p. 233). The helplessness and hopelessness theories of depression (1974, 1975) “states that when animals or humans find that they have no control over aversive events (such as shock), they learn that they are helpless, which makes them unmotivated to try to...