The plaque of major depression (MD) is wide spread and an ever increasing one. The age of diagnosis is steadily decreasing. This raises the question: do psychologists diagnose this disorder too frequently; is it a means to an end when no problem really exists? Or is there a clinical rise in prevalence as a result of genetic, physiological, social, stress, psychosocial or any other factor that may contribute to the manifestation of MD.
In the following section we define MD, discuss the symptoms of MD, and review the aetiology (cause) of MD.
Definition of MD
Major depression falls in a category of psychological disorders that affect mood. Mood disorders can be defined as disorders where: 1) a person feels depressed and/or elated, 2) portrays signs of depression and/or mania for significant period of time, 3) sypmtoms of severity impair homeostasis and 4) the disorder prevails in the absence of identifiable stressors or triggers. In this review we only focus on the depressed state of mood disorders and disregard the elated state. For interest sake; when both symptoms are present bipolar disorders is diagnosed- a severe disorder, if no medication is given, that often results in public violence or suicide(Austin et al., 2009). Bipolar disorder does not fall in the scope of this literature review.
MD or called clinical depression is a serious psychiatric illness, that has should not be confused with sadness or a temporary depressed mood as the result of individual contextual matters. Hence MD is defined as a disorder that portrays signs of chronic depression, cognitive, physical, behavioural, emotional and perceptual symptoms. Symptoms vary among individuals and not all symptoms may be portrayed. MD may be subdivided into single episodes or recurrent episodes that are specified as: mild, moderate, severe without psychotic features, severe with psychotic features, post-partum (after giving birth) and seasonal symptoms (Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel of Mental Disorders., DSM-IV-TR, 2000).
Symptoms of MD
Cognitive symptoms are often seen in people with depression. Some prevailing symptoms are a disturbed self-image, negative views of the environment they find themselves in and of the future, the manifestation of extreme beliefs of worthlessness, unimportance and extremely low self-esteem. These symptoms reinforce one another. As example: low self-esteem leads to a depressed mood which in turn enhances negative views. This extreme depressed mood ultimately yields thoughts of loss, guilt, suicide and death. It is speculated that 60% of depressed patients have thoughts about suicide and 10-15% ultimately do commit suicide.
Physical symptoms are observed in ongoing depression. These include but are not limited to; fatigue, lethargy, generalized aches and pains, significant fluctuations in weight, sleep irregularities, loss of libido, anhedonia (loss in the pleasure of life).
The resulting depressed mood, which is overwhelmed by...