Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

During self-quarantine, dogs may help protect mental health

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more people are practicing social distancing and self-quarantine—two measures epidemiologists agree are critical to slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Psychology & Psychiatry

Anti-psychotic medication linked to adverse change in brain structure

In a first-of-its-kind study using advanced brain imaging techniques, a commonly used anti-psychotic medication was associated with potentially adverse changes in brain structure. This study was the first in humans to evaluate ...

Psychology & Psychiatry

More than one in 10 deployed soldiers thinks about suicide

(HealthDay)—Major depressive disorder (MDD) and noncombat trauma are important factors tied to suicide ideation (SI) risk during combat deployment, according to a study published online Jan. 29 in JAMA Network Open.

Psychology & Psychiatry

Connection between alcohol use and depression could aid treatment

For people with psychiatric disorders, comorbidity—or the presence of two or more disorders in a single patient—is quite common. One of the most common comorbidities is alcohol use disorder and major depressive disorder. ...

Psychology & Psychiatry

New tool assesses risk of depression in adolescence

A study involving researchers from King's College London, has developed a predictive tool that can recognise adolescents who are at high or low risk of depression in young adulthood.

Psychology & Psychiatry

Harnessing biology and technology to develop new depression treatments

New research into the biology of depression, along with new and evolving technologies, provides the basis for developing the next generation of treatments for major depressive disorder (MDD), according to the special January/February ...

Psychology & Psychiatry

Some surprisingly good news about anxiety

Anxiety disorders are the most common type of psychiatric illness, yet researchers know very little about factors associated with recovery. A new University of Toronto study investigated three levels of recovery in a large, ...

Psychology & Psychiatry

fMRI measures may predict psychiatric symptoms in children

(HealthDay)—Resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) measures may be able to predict symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder or major depressive disorder in children, according to a study ...

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Major depressive disorder

Major depressive disorder (also known as clinical depression, major depression, unipolar depression, or unipolar disorder) is a mental disorder characterized by an all-encompassing low mood accompanied by low self-esteem, and loss of interest or pleasure in normally enjoyable activities. The term "major depressive disorder" was selected by the American Psychiatric Association to designate this symptom cluster as a mood disorder in the 1980 version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III) classification, and has become widely used since. The general term depression is often used to describe the disorder, but as it can also be used to describe other types of psychological depression, more precise terminology is preferred for the disorder in clinical and research use. Major depression is a disabling condition which adversely affects a person's family, work or school life, sleeping and eating habits, and general health. In the United States, approximately 3.4% of people with major depression commit suicide, and up to 60% of people who commit suicide have depression or another mood disorder.

The diagnosis of major depressive disorder is based on the patient's self-reported experiences, behavior reported by relatives or friends, and a mental status exam. There is no laboratory test for major depression, although physicians generally request tests for physical conditions that may cause similar symptoms. The most common time of onset is between the ages of 30 and 40 years, with a later peak between 50 and 60 years. Major depression is reported about twice as frequently in women as in men, although men are at higher risk for committing suicide.

Most patients are treated in the community with antidepressant medication and some with psychotherapy or counseling. Hospitalization may be necessary in cases with associated self-neglect or a significant risk of harm to self or others. A minority are treated with electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), under a short-acting general anaesthetic. The course of the disorder varies widely, from one episode lasting months to a lifelong disorder with recurrent major depressive episodes. Depressed individuals have shorter life expectancies than those without depression, in part because of greater susceptibility to medical illnesses. Current and former patients may be stigmatized.

The understanding of the nature and causes of depression has evolved over the centuries, though many aspects of depression remain incompletely understood and are the subject of discussion and research. Psychological, psycho-social, hereditary, evolutionary and biological causes have been proposed. Psychological treatments are based on theories of personality, interpersonal communication, and learning. Most biological theories focus on the monoamine chemicals serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine that are naturally present in the brain and assist communication between nerve cells. Monoamines have been implicated in depression, and most antidepressants work to increase the active levels of at least one.

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