Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)

Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is the result of a combination of symptoms that interfere with the ability to work, study, sleep, eat, and enjoy once pleasurable activities. Such episodes of depression may occur either once or several times in a lifetime. A depressive disorder is an illness that involves the body, mood, and thoughts. It interferes with daily life, normal functioning, and causes pain for both the person with the disorder and those who care about him or her.


Major Depression VS Minor Depression

A major depressive episode is a serious medical issue in which the person is profoundly impacted by the symptoms of depression. Without proper treatment, such episodes can recur repeatedly. Those who have major depression need help, so they can end the current episode and keep new episodes from taking hold. However, such individuals may not be capable of asking for that help on their own.

Minor depression, also known as everyday depression to some, is another medical issue of concern. Individuals with minor depression may not get help because they have the impression that their symptoms are not severe enough. Such individuals may still be able to go to work, handle home obligations, and otherwise lead a relatively normal life, but deep down, they are struggling and they need help. Proper treatment should be sought after in hopes of a full recovery.


Possible Causes

  • Genetics (Prevailing Cause of MDD)
  • Physiological Factors
  • Anatomical Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors



  • Decreased energy, fatigue, being "slowed down"
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that were once enjoyed
  • Persistent sad, anxious, or empty mood
  • Agitation and restlessness
  • Inability to focus
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Changes in sleep, oversleeping



Two main treatments are available for MDD: Medication and Psychotherapy.


Many types of antidepressants are available, such as those below. Please do discuss possible major side effects with your doctor or pharmacist.

  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs): Doctors often start by prescribing an SSRI. These drugs are considered safer and generally cause fewer  side effects compared to other types of antidepressants.
  • Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs): This class of drugs is often used to treat pain and a range of mental or behavioural disorders.
  • Atypical Antidepressants: Unlike SSRIs and SNRIs, which work via one biological pathway, atypical antidepressants usually work through multiple modes.
  • Tricyclic Antidepressants: These drugs can be very effective, but tend to cause more-severe side effects compared to newer antidepressants. They are generally prescribed after seeing no improvements with SSRI.
  • Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs). MAOIs can have serious side effects. Using MAOIs requires a strict diet because of dangerous (or even deadly) interactions with foods ― such as certain cheeses, pickles and wines.



Psychotherapy is a general term for treating depression by talking about your condition and related issues with a mental health professional. Different types of psychotherapy can be effective for depression, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) or Interpersonal Therapy. Psychotherapy can help you:

  • Adjust to a crisis or other current difficulty
  • Identify negative beliefs and behaviours and replace them with healthy, positive ones
  • Explore relationships and experiences, and develop positive interactions with others
  • Find better ways to cope and solve problems
  • Identify issues that contribute to your depression and change behaviours that make it worse
  • Regain a sense of satisfaction and control in your life and help ease depression symptoms, such as hopelessness and anger