Major depressive disorder can be characterized by a depressed mood for most of the day, nearly every day. This depressed mood will markedly diminish interest or pleasure in all or almost all activities. There can also be significant weight loss or weight gain associated with major depressive disorder. Finally, insomnia or hyper-somnia can be known to occur during major depressive episodes.
The average onset of major depression is usually 30 years old, but can occur earlier or later in life. Statistically, 24% of 18-23 year olds and 16% of 24-30 year olds experience meet the criteria for a major depressive episode. Major depression is seen equally in both men and women and has a prevalence of 16% worldwide. Although the exact etiology is unknown, environmental and genetic influences have been known to play a part. The neurotransmitter system within the brain, specifically serotonin, has been linked to depression as well. Psychologically speaking, a perceived sense of hopelessness or a perceived lack of control over one’s life may also contribute to depression as well.
Behind depression lies a lack of perceived control as well as an overall sense of helplessness and hopelessness. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) conceptualizes depression negative schemas, automatic thoughts and that treatment includes correcting the errors in this thinking. CBT treats depression by focusing on both depression’s cognitive and behavioral components. In the cognitive component of the treatment, first negative thinking and the distortions it causes is corrected. The behavioral component of treatment encompasses helps to assess how daily activities have an impact on mood and how this can improve symptoms of depression.