What Is a Major Depressive Episode?

Depression is a dangerous psychological disorder that can function as a low-level feeling of fatigue, persistent sadness or as a debilitating disease. This is called a major depressive episode and it can be quite serious – even life-threatening.

Major Depressive Symptoms

There are many symptoms of a major depressive episode, and these may include the following:

  • Persistent sadness
  • Inability to function emotionally
  • Lack of motivation
  • Hopelessness
  • Lack of appetite
  • Sleep disorders
  • Irritability
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Headaches or other chronic physical pain
  • High-risk behaviors
  • Emotional numbness
  • Severe decrease in feelings of self-worth
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions

Patients suffering from major depression report these symptoms being present for the better part of nearly every day. They lose interest in activities that were once enjoyable and people who were once close friends. Most depressed individuals demonstrate a significant decrease in libido. As a means of self-medication, some of these victims engage in binge eating, substance abuse, high-risk behaviors or self-harm. If left untreated these episodes may last for two years or longer, with a significant number of patients experiencing residual symptoms for much longer than that. Major depressive disorder disables people from engaging in anything resembling a normal, productive life.

How Is a Major Depressive Episode Treated?

Most therapists will treat a major depressive episode with a combination of medication and psychotherapy. The medications that have proven most effective for treating this are benzodiazepines such as Xanax, Prozac, Valium and the like. While these drugs can be very effective, they do present a high risk of addiction if used for over one month: those with a history of substance abuse or addiction will have an even higher risk of becoming hooked on benzodiazepines. It is important for patients to be completely honest with their health care professionals when it comes to treating depression.

Beyond the medical treatment of depression, psychotherapy is also very important. This type of counseling identifies faulty thinking patterns that may be adding to the episodes. Treatment for depression often involves a variety of rehab techniques such as the following:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Dialectical behavior treatment
  • Support group meetings
  • Substance abuse treatment (when needed)
  • Introduction to healthy new activities and exercises

Each case is unique and each patient is treated individually based on her particular needs. These programs are available in both inpatient and outpatient formats. Treatment professionals can help you decide which approach is best for you.

Help for Major Depressive Episodes

If you are concerned that you may be in the midst of a major depressive episode, or if you are concerned about a loved one who has become seriously depressed, please call our 24 hour, toll-free helpline any time. We can answer any questions you may have about depression and treatment, and we can connect you with the best programs for your unique needs. The call is free and confidential. Don’t waste another day in the emotional pit of depression. We can help you see the light of day again and rediscover the joy of life. Call today.