Major depressive disorder versus sadness thumbnail

Major depressive disorder versus sadness

“Clinical depression, major depressive disorder (MDD), sadness and depression are often used interchangeably, but they do not mean the same thing. Dr. McCleary, licensed clinical psychologist and Navy Veteran, breaks down the difference between these terms. Sadness is a natural emotion and a symptom of depression. Sadness is an emotion that serves a critical role in us getting over and processing losses. At the same time, excessive amounts of sadness can be debilitating and be a part of a larger set of symptoms. Mental health disorders are just that; they are a group of symptoms.

For further explanation of what a disorder is and how we use them, check out this video.
(What is a mental health diagnosis and why do providers use them?)
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Major depressive disorder, also known as clinical depression, is a disorder characterized by sad mood or reduced ability to feel pleasure. Below is the criteria for major depressive disorder.

A) Five (or more) of the following symptoms have been present during the same 2‐week period and represent a change from previous functioning; at least one of the symptoms is either (1) depressed mood or (2) loss of interest or pleasure. (Note: Do not include symptoms that are clearly attributable to another medical condition)
1) Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day as indicated by either subjective report (e.g., feels sad, empty, hopeless) or observation made by others (e.g., appears tearful). (Note: In children and adolescents, can be irritable mood).
2) Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day (as indicated by either subjective account or observation).

What is Anhedonia?
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3) Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain (e.g., a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month), or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day. (Note: In children, consider failure to make expected weight gain.)
4) Insomnia or hypersomnia nearly every day.
5) Psychomotor agitation or retardation nearly every day (observable by others, not merely subjective feelings of restlessness or being slowed down).
6) Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day.
7) Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt (which may be delusional) nearly every day (not merely self‐reproach or guilt about being sick).
8) Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day (either by subjective account or as observed by others).
9) Recurrent thoughts of death (not just fear of dying), recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide.
B) The symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
C) The episode is not attributable to the physiological effects of a substance or to another medical condition.

Dr. Harry McCleary is a licensed clinical psychologist and Navy Veteran. His channel is aimed at educating Veterans and their loved one about mental health.

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