Depression & Depressive Disorders


We all experience feelings of sadness and hopelessness from time to time depending on what is happening in our life. However, many of us may experience symptoms of a mental health condition known as depressive disorders. Depressive symptoms involve persistent feelings of sadness and loss of interest. Depressive symptoms affect the way we think, feel and behave and negatively impact our daily routine, social life, work and school. Often people are unaware they are struggling with depression and may tell themselves they are lazy or incompetent, and simply need to snap out of it. People with depression often feel very critical of themselves, and this self-critical attitude makes depression worse. 

Many people do not meet criteria for a mood disorder as defined in the DSM-V and explained below, however, they may demonstrate some of the symptoms which impacts their quality of life.

Some signs of depressive symptoms:

  • Feeling down, tearful, empty, sad, or helpless
  • Feeling worthless, guilt or fixating on past failures
  • Loss of interest in people, places and activities
  • Difficulty with concentration and making decisions
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts
  • Anger outbursts, irritability
  • Loss of motivation, difficulty getting things done
  • Problems with appetite, eating too much or too little
  • Fatigue, lack of energy, even small tasks take effort
  • Problems with sleep, sleeping too much or insomnia
  • Unexplained physical problems such as headaches

Major Depressive Disorder

Major depressive disorder is a condition where a person experiences both depressed mood and/or loss of interest or pleasure in things one normally used to enjoy for a minimum of two weeks. They may have periods of feeling better and/or like their usual self, but they often have more than one such episode. They can feel hopeless, worthless and have difficulty getting out of bed and going about normal day to day functioning. Generally the person feels sad for most of the day, nearly everyday, for that distinct period. It represents a shift from previous functioning when the person did feel good and was able to be productive.

Persistent Depressive Disorder or Dysthymia

Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD) is a chronic form of depression. Previously, this disorder was referred to as Dysthymia. In the DSM-V it was renamed to Persistent Depressive Disorder and categorized by symptoms of Dysthymic and Major Depressive Disorder. Like other types of depression, PDD includes feelings of deep sadness and hopelessness that affect one’s mood, behaviour and physical functions such as sleep and appetite, loss of interest in daily life and difficulty getting things done. PDD is different from major depressive disorder in that most of the symptoms occur at a lower intensity over a longer duration, for at least two years in adults and one year in children. The person experiences these symptoms more often than not. PDD has the same symptoms as Major Depressive Disorder except that the symptoms are less severe and last longer.