Major Depressive Disorder, Adult, Easy-to-Read

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    Major Depressive Disorder, Adult, Easy-to-Read

    Major Depressive Disorder, Adult

    Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a mental health condition. People with this disorder feel very sad, hopeless, and lose interest in things. Symptoms last most of the day, almost every day, for 2 weeks. MDD can affect:
    • Relationships.
    • Work and school.
    • Things you usually like to do.

    What are the causes?

    The cause of MDD is not known.

    What increases the risk?

    • Having family members with depression.
    • Being female.
    • Family problems.
    • Alcohol or drug misuse.
    • A lot of stress in your life, such as from:
      • Living without basic needs such as food and housing.
      • Being treated poorly because of race, sex, or religion (discrimination).
      • Things that caused you pain as a child, especially if you lost a parent or were abused.
      • Health and mental problems that you have had for a long time.

    What are the signs or symptoms?

    The main symptoms of this condition are:
    • Being sad all the time.
    • Being grouchy (irritable) all the time.
    • Not enjoying the things you usually like.
    • Sleeping too much or too little.
    • Eating too much or too little.
    • Feeling tired.

    Other symptoms include:
    • Gaining or losing weight, without knowing why.
    • Being restless and weak.
    • Feeling hopeless, worthless, or guilty.
    • Trouble thinking or making decisions.
    • Thoughts of hurting yourself or others, or thoughts of ending your life.
    • Spending a lot of time alone.
    • Being unable to do daily tasks.

    If you have very bad MDD, you may:
    • Believe things that are not true.
    • Hear, see, taste, or feel things that are not there.
    • Have mild depression that lasts for at least 2 years.
    • Feel very sad and hopeless.
    • Have trouble speaking or moving.
    • Feel very sad during some seasons.

    How is this treated?

    • Talk therapy. This teaches you about thoughts, feelings, and actions and how to change them.
      • This can also help you to talk with others.
      • This can be done with members of your family.
    • Medicines.
    • Lifestyle changes. You may need to:
      • Limit alcohol use.
      • Stop using drugs, if you use them.
      • Exercise.
      • Get plenty of sleep.
      • Eat healthy.
      • Spend more time outdoors.
    • Brain stimulation. This may be done when symptoms are very bad or have not gotten better.

    Follow these instructions at home:

    Alcohol use

    • Do not drink alcohol if:
      • Your health care provider tells you not to drink.
      • You are pregnant, may be pregnant, or are planning to become pregnant.
    • If you drink alcohol:
      • Limit how much you use to:
        • 0–1 drink a day for women.
        • 0–2 drinks a day for men.
      • Know how much alcohol is in your drink. In the U.S., one drink equals one 12 oz bottle of beer (355 mL), one 5 oz glass of wine (148 mL), or one 1½ oz glass of hard liquor (44 mL).


    • Exercise as told by your doctor.
    • Spend time outdoors.
    • Make time to do the things you enjoy.
    • Find ways to deal with stress. Try to:
      • Meditate.
      • Do deep breathing.
      • Spend time in nature.
      • Keep a journal.
    • Return to your normal activities when your doctor says that it is safe.

    General instructions

    A group of people taking part in a therapy session.
    • Take over-the-counter and prescription medicines only as told by your doctor.
    • Talk to your doctor about:
      • Alcohol use. It can affect medicines.
      • Any drug use.
    • Eat healthy foods.
    • Get a lot of sleep.
    • Think about joining a support group. Ask your doctor about that.
    • Keep all follow-up visits. Your doctor will need to check on your mood, behavior, and medicines, and change your treatment as needed.

    Where to find more information:

    Contact a doctor if:

    • You feel worse.
    • You get new symptoms.

    Get help right away if:

    • You hurt yourself on purpose (self-harm).
    • You have thoughts about hurting yourself or others.
    • You see, hear, taste, smell, or feel things that are not there.

    Get help right away if you feel like you may hurt yourself or others, or have thoughts about taking your own life. Go to your nearest emergency room or:
    • Call 911.
    • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or 988. This is open 24 hours a day.
    • Text the Crisis Text Line at 741741.

    This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider. Make sure you discuss any questions you have with your health care provider.

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