Major Depressive Episode and Major Depressive Disorder share the same symptoms in a person’s life. Because of this, many people have difficulty distinguishing between the two. The main differences between the two are the cause and the duration of symptoms.
Major Depressive Episode
A Major Depressive Episode is most often the result of stress in a person’s life and usually has a definite cause. Losing a job or getting divorced are both common causes of a Major Depressive Episode. If the cause of the stress can be removed, the Major Depressive Episode ends. If the cause cannot be removed, the patient must learn to adapt to their new set of circumstances.
Most Major Depressive Episodes end within six months. Some of them are much shorter. The sooner the patient comes to terms with whatever is causing the episode, the shorter it will be. There have been cases of Major Depressive Episodes lasting for years. This happens when the cause of stress in the patient’s life remains unresolved and their episode goes untreated.
There are nine main symptoms of Major Depressive Episode. In order for a person to be clinically diagnosed, they must exhibit five of them for at least two week. The symptoms are: a depressed mood, a lack of interest in previous activities, dramatic weight gain or loss due to change in appetite, lethargy, fatigue, low self-esteem, loss of mental focus or inability to make decisions, and contemplation of self harm.
Major Depressive Disorder
These are the same symptoms that are most commonly associated with Major Depressive Disorder. This disorder is very similar to Major Depressive Episode, except Major Depressive Disorder is the diagnosis for chronic depression. It is not uncommon for someone with Major Depressive Disorder to suffer from the above symptoms for their entire life.
There are several other conditions that are often linked with Major Depressive Disorder. Patients who have been diagnosed often also have Bipolar Disorder or Anxiety Disorder. There is also an increased rate of heart disease in patients with Major Depressive Disorder.
Many of the same outside socio-economic factors that trigger a Major Depressive Episode can also play a role in Major Depressive Disorder. Often, however, patients cannot identify one specific cause for their depression. Biological factors may be triggering the depression. A lack of serotonin transporters is one example of a biological factor that may be exacerbating a person’s Major Depressive Disorder.
Heredity plays a strong role in chronic depression. A person with a family history of Major Depressive Disorder is at a greater risk for developing it themselves. Depression can be treated with medication and therapy, but it is managed, not cured. If a person goes off their medication, even years later, the depression often returns.
Major Depressive Episode and Major Depressive Disorder exhibit the same set of symptoms. The difference between the two is the cause of depression and the length of time that a person suffers from them.