A diagnosis of major depressive disorder can feel intimidating and leave you wondering what the next steps are. Often, the mental health provider who gives this diagnosis will talk you through what this means and where to go from here, but if you’re still feeling unsure, let’s talk a little about the implications of and potential treatment options for major depressive disorder.
What is Major Depressive Disorder?
When people think of diagnosed depression, they are most likely thinking about major depressive disorder (MDD). This mental health diagnosis is characterized by a persistent low mood, loss of interest in activities, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, and sleep disturbances among other symptoms. While suicidal thoughts can accompany symptoms of MDD, these thoughts do not have to be present to meet diagnostic criteria. Children and adolescents may also present with increased irritability.
Receiving a Diagnosis of Depression
Noticing changes in behavior and mood is the first step in pursuing an official diagnosis. If you’re noticing a decrease in desire to complete necessary tasks or a loss of interest in activities you previously enjoyed, start making note of the patterns you see. Are you lacking the energy to get out of bed or losing motivation to attend to your basic hygiene needs? Do you find yourself ruminating over situations, leading to feelings of guilt? If you are noticing changes in someone you love, you may look for more external behaviors. Are they isolating themselves from others more frequently? Do they seem to anger more quickly and become defensive of their actions?
Whether these behaviors are becoming evident in yourself or someone you love, you may want to consider seeking out a depressive disorder diagnosis. The first step in this process is often to talk to your primary care doctor about your concerns. They can help eliminate the potential that health issues may be contributing to your symptoms. After this initial conversation, they will likely refer you to a mental health professional: either a psychiatrist or a licensed psychologist. Either of these professionals will be able to provide necessary testing or evaluations to provide you with a diagnosis, if appropriate. They will also be able to answer any questions you have about major depressive disorder and connect you with any necessary resources.
What Are the Treatments for Major Depressive Disorder?
Once you have received a diagnosis, if you are not already connected with mental health resources, this is the first step in treatment. To provide comprehensive care for those with major depressive disorder, often a variety of treatment modalities are combined. Some of the main treatment options for this diagnosis include:
- Talk Therapy: Talk therapy can be both in an individual and group setting and provides you a space to process the life events that may be contributing to your symptoms. This is also a space where you can work on developing coping skills to better manage your depression.
- Medication Management: Many times, mental health professionals will encourage you to start with therapy before introducing medication. There are exceptions to this, though, especially if your symptoms are severe and interfere with your ability to function on a daily basis. This is something you will talk through with your providers to determine what the best course of action is for your specific case.
- Residential or Inpatient Treatment: Sometimes, your symptoms may be so severe that your safety is at risk. If this is the case, your treatment team will discuss more intensive options, such as a hospital stay, residential treatment, or an intensive outpatient program. These are decisions you will make together, and you will have the opportunity to discuss any questions you have before this happens.
- Coping Skill Development: Outside of your mental health provider’s office, you can also work on developing coping skills independently to manage your depressive symptoms. Some effective coping skills include: journaling, meditation and mindfulness, exercising, engaging in a new hobby or activity, and spending time with friends and family.
Support for Men with Depression
Participating in a treatment program is vital to properly manage a diagnosis of major depressive disorder, and gender-specific treatment ensures your needs are fully met. PACE Recovery Center offers mental health treatment for men diagnosed with mood disorders, such as depression, both in outpatient and residential settings. Located in Orange County, our treatment model blends group and individual therapy and provides men with the skills they need to fully embrace life and its challenges. Our residential program provides intensive treatment without the distractions of regular life, so you can fully focus on your recovery. We also offer academic support for young men who are still in school but would benefit from our residential program. If you’d like to learn more about our treatment options for mood disorders, like major depressive disorder, contact our team today.
Reference: Bains N, Abdijadid S. Major Depressive Disorder. [Updated 2021 Apr 20]. StatPearls (Internet), 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK559078/