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Major Depression

In a major depression, the individual will suffer with more symptoms, and the symptoms are usually more intense or severe. A major depression can result from a single traumatic event in your life, or may develop slowly due to a number of personal disappointments and life stressors. Some people appear to develop the symptoms of a major depression without any obvious life crisis causing it. Other individuals have had less severe symptoms of depression for a long time and a life crisis or severe stress causes the intensity of the symptoms to go up.

Major depression can occur once, as a result of a significant psychological trauma, respond to treatment, and never occur again within your lifetime. This would be a single episode depression. Many people however, will have recurring depression, with episodes of depression followed by periods of several months or years without depression, followed by another episode, usually in response to more life stressors or another trauma. This would be a recurrent depression. The treatment for both is similar, except that treatment usually last longer for recurrent depression.

Reactive Depression

Reactive depression (or an Adjustment Disorder with depressed mood). The diagnosis of an adjustment disorder implies that specific psychological symptoms have developed in response to a specific and identifiable psychosocial stressor. Adjustment disorder with depression is used to categorize mild to moderate depression, following a stressful event.

If the depressive symptoms last longer then six months after the stress that produced the reaction has ended then a diagnosis of Depression would be used. There is an exception to this rule, as some stressors continue over a long period of time, rather than occurring as a single event. For example, if a person is in a stressful job situation, which continues for months, the depression may not be severe enough to be diagnosis as major depression even though it would last for more than six months. Since the stress continues, the reactive depression diagnosis could be used.

Depression, Not otherwise specified

This is a valuable way to categorize depression that does not fit into the other categories. This would include people with mild to moderate depression, who have not been depressed long enough to be diagnosed with dysthymic disorder, which requires depressive symptoms for two years. This category also includes people with serious depression, but not quite severe enough for a diagnosis of a major depression. It also includes those individuals who continue to be depressed, in response to some traumatic event, but the depression has lasted longer than expected for an adjustment disorder with depression (reactive depression), the expectation is that the depression will last no more than about six months after the stressor has ended.

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