Major Depressive Disorder

Rick Ingram

in Social Work

ISBN: 9780195389678
Published online December 2012 | | DOI:
Major Depressive Disorder


Depression is a term that can describe a number of states or conditions. Depression can be described as a symptom, synonymous with feeling sad. It can also be described as a syndrome that is characterized by a collection of symptoms that tend to occur together. When such a syndrome occurs with enough symptoms that functioning is impaired, it is viewed as a psychiatric illness, or as a psychological disorder. When it reaches the level of a psychological disorder, it falls within a group of affective disorders that are described in the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), specifically as a category of mood disorders. Among these disorders is major depressive disorder, which is the focus of this article. Other major mood disorders described by the DSM are dysthymic disorders, which represent a low-grade depressive state that lasts for at least a two-year period. Bipolar disorders are also covered and include bipolar I disorder, which is characterized by manic symptoms, and bipolar II disorder, which is characterized by somewhat less severe manic symptoms known as hypomania. Depression is among the most common of all psychological disorders, with some estimates suggesting that between 15 and 20 percent of Americans will experience a clinically significant episode of depression at some point in their lives. Although depression is viewed as a disorder of mood, the effects of depression pervade the individual’s life and negatively affect social relationships and relationships with partners and children, as well as occupational and academic functioning. Depression can be highly recurrent in some individuals, and for many people, having one depressive disorder places them at risk for the development of future depressive disorders. However, many instances of depression are time limited, and symptoms usually disappear within six to nine months. When symptoms are absent or minimal for at least three consecutive weeks, the disorder is assumed to be in remission, and if there is no return of symptoms for at least four months following remission, the person is assumed to have recovered from the episode. Either naturally or through treatment, most individuals recover from their depressive episode, although a very small percentage of patients do not recover even with treatment.

Article.  7457 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribeRecommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »