The level of depression observed in people with mood disorders varies widely. People who experience depression for many years, such that it becomes to seem normal and part of their everyday life, and who feel that they are rarely or never happy, will likely be diagnosed with a mood disorder. If the depression is mild but long-lasting, they will be diagnosed with dysthymia, acondition characterized bymild, but chronic, depressivesymptoms that last for at least 2 years.
If the depression continues and becomes even more severe, the diagnosis may become that of major depressive disorder.Major depressive disorder (clinical depression) is a mental disorder characterized by an all-encompassing low mood accompanied by low self-esteem and by loss of interest or pleasure in normally enjoyable activities. Those who suffer from major depressive disorder feel an intense sadness, despair, and loss of interest in pursuits that once gave them pleasure. These negative feelings profoundly limit the individual’s day-to-day functioning and ability to maintain and develop interests in life (Fairchild & Scogin, 2008). 1
About 21 million American adults suffer from a major depressive disorder in any given year; this is approximately 7% of the American population. Major depressive disorder occurs about twice as often in women as it does in men (Kessler, Chiu, Demler, & Walters, 2005; Kessler e t al., 2003). 2 In some cases clinically depressed people lose contact with reality and may receive a diagnosis of major depressive episode with psychotic features. In these cases the depression includes delusions and hallucinations.