Roger S. McIntyre and Jay Nathanson

in Severe Depression

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print February 2010 | ISBN: 9780199570249
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191740350 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Psychiatry Library


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This introductory chapter focuses on major depressive disorder (MDD. The causes of MDD are multifactorial, and include a modest genetic underpinning as well as exposure to distal (e.g., childhood trauma) and proximal psychosocial stressors. During the past decade, there has been a substantial increase in the proportion of North Americans who have received pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic treatments for MDD. This upward trajectory is related to a significant increase in large population- and clinical-based programmes to promote the awareness of mood disorders. It is frequently postulated that severe depression is a distinct subphenotype of MDD. It is not known, however, if severe depression represents a distinct subtype of MDD or whether it is a transient exacerbation of a chronic disease. This title sketches a composite of severe depression, with a particular emphasis on definitions, operational criteria, phenomenology, course of illness, neurobiology, and treatment. The encompassing aim of this initiative is to provide multi-disciplinary practitioners and allied health care professionals with a contemporary synopsis and framework of severe depression in order to more effectively diagnose and treat individuals who suffer from this condition.

Chapter.  621 words. 

Subjects: Psychiatry

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