Major depressive disorder (MDD), more commonly referred to as depression, is more than just a sad mood or feeling down. The newest research suggests that the symptoms of depression may be due to decreased levels of biomolecules in the brain called 'neurotrophic factors'. These biomolecules support cell growth and survival, and development of new connections between cells.
A deficiency of these biomolecules results in cell loss in important areas of the brain associated with motivation, emotion, perceptions, thinking, learning and memory. Reversing this deficiency with the use of new antidepressant treatments may resolve the symptoms of depression. New antidepressant medications being studied may work much more rapidly and be more effective than currently available treatments.
Depression is challenging. Having MDD can make it much harder for people to complete ordinary day-to-day activities. It may be much more difficult to get out of bed and go to work. Trying to get through the work day may take much greater effort than usual. Even simple day-to-day activities such as bathing, brushing your teeth, doing laundry, and other household chores may seem overwhelming.
If you are symptoms of depression most of the day, nearly every day, you may be experiencing MDD. But you are not alone, it is reported that as many as 7% of the US population meets criteria for major depressive disorder over a 12-month period and women are 1.5-3 times as likely as men to develop MDD.
Some treatments which have been proven to be effective in MDD research studies include antidepressant medications, cognitive behavior therapy, and TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation). Treatments don't work for all people. Treatments have side effects and some can take 4-6 weeks to become effective. Some individuals experience treatment resistant depression and do not feel adequate results even while taking an antidepressant.
Research is needed to find new, more effective, faster-acting treatment options with fewer side effects. People with MDD experience a depressed mood (persistent feelings of sadness or hopeless) or loss of interest or pleasure most of the day nearly every day.
Other common symptoms of MDD include:
- Low energy
- Low motivation, needing to push yourself to do day-to-day activities
- Difficulty getting to sleep or sleeping excessively
- Loss of appetite or overeating
- Feeling restless or slowed down
- Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt
- Trouble concentrating or thinking clearly
- Recurrent thoughts of death, and recurrent suicidal thoughts
- For some, symptoms may persist even when taking an antidepressant