What Is Major Depressive Disorder?
Major depressive disorder — or MDD — is a mood disorder that causes feelings of sadness that won’t go away
and a loss of interest in things you normally enjoy. MDD can affect your quality of life, interfere with daily
activities, and may even lead to physical problems.
MDD can be different for everyone, but symptoms will happen most of the day, and nearly every day, for at least
2 weeks. In addition to a depressed mood and a loss of interest, your symptoms may include:
Whatever the cause of your depression, the first step is to let your doctor know how you’re feeling. Having open
and honest communication about your symptoms is the key to getting the care and treatment that’s right for you.
Getting treatment for MDD can help you feel more like yourself and make daily activities easier.
Treatments that your doctor may recommend, alone or in combination, to improve your mood and manage your
symptoms can include lifestyle changes, medicine, and counseling (therapy). The main medicines used to treat
MDD are antidepressants.
Types of antidepressants can include:
All medicines can have side effects, and not everyone will have the same ones. Side effects that may happen
with antidepressants can include:
• Fatigue (tiredness) or
lack of energy
• Weight changes
• Sleep problems
• Irritability, frustration
• Problems concentrating
or making decisions
• Sexual problems
• Physical problems
without a known
cause, such as back
pain or headaches
• Feeling guilty
• Thoughts of death
Not all side effects are listed here. Ask your doctor, pharmacist, or healthcare team for a complete list.
Is It a Symptom or a Side Effect?
This can be an important question to ask your doctor during treatment for MDD. You may feel reluctant to bring
up certain symptoms or side effects, but talking openly with your doctor can help you make a treatment plan
together that best fits your individual needs.
Medicines can work differently and have different
side effects for different people. Your doctor
may need to try different ones or different doses
to find what works for you. Some medicines
may also take several days or weeks to work.
With side effects, certain ones can go away on
their own over time, but others may last longer.
To help manage side effects, your doctor may
recommend switching to another treatment or
adding a treatment.
It’s important to remember to stick to your
treatment plan and not stop or change any
treatment without talking to your doctor first.
Stopping or missing doses may cause feelings of
withdrawal, and quitting suddenly may cause MDD symptoms to get worse. Keeping track of any symptoms or
side effects you have and recording them in a journal or diary can be helpful for when you talk to your doctor.
Talk to your doctor regularly and be sure to keep your appointments.
Questions you can ask about MDD can include:
What symptoms should I look for?
What treatments are available, and what are their side effects?
Are there any lifestyle changes I should make?
What should I do if I feel anxious or stressed?
Are there options for appointments if I can’t visit in person?
Where can I find more information and resources?
Is there a support group I can join?
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