Depressive Disorders: Definition, Types, Causes & Treatment

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  • 0:06 Depressive Disorders
  • 1:09 Diagnosis
  • 4:17 Causes & Treatment
  • 5:43 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

What is depression? In this lesson, we'll look closer at depressive disorders, including the diagnostic criteria, causes, and treatments of major depressive disorder.

Depressive Disorders

Laurie is blue. She's recently broken up with her boyfriend, she's failing her statistics class, and she's really worried she might get kicked out of school. She feels sad all the time, and isn't interested in hanging out with her friends, and is always tired despite sleeping most of the day. Not only that, she's lost her appetite and is having trouble concentrating in school.

Laurie might be suffering from a depressive disorder, a mood disorder that involves feeling sad and losing interest in things that are normally interesting to the person. There is more than one type of depressive disorder. Major depressive disorder is what most people think of when they think of depression. It involves long periods of severe sadness or loss of interest and other symptoms as well.

But there's another type of depressive episode, called dysthymia, which is a less severe form of major depressive disorder. Dysthymia is chronic (that is, it lasts a long time), but the symptoms are not as severe.


So which one does Laurie have? Imagine that you're her psychologist. It's your job to figure out if Laurie has major depressive disorder or dysthymia. In order to figure that out, you consult a book called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM for short. This book lists the criteria required to be diagnosed with a psychological disorder. To check if Laurie has major depressive disorder, you turn to the page with the diagnostic criteria for that disorder and you compare her symptoms to those in the book.

1. Depressed mood and/or loss of interest in pleasurable things.

Laurie is feeling sad and she doesn't want to hang out with her friends, so she has both of these symptoms and meets this criterion.

2. At least 3 or 4 other symptoms.

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