Minor Depressive Disorder

What is Minor Depressive Disorder?

Individuals suffering from minor depressive disorder have symptoms of depression for a few weeks, but not prolonged enough, or severe enough to gain the classification as a major depressive disorder.

The minor depressive disorder has a variety of treatment options, and with the proper attention, responds effectively to therapy so the patient can get back to their normal state. If not treated, the minor depressive disorder can turn into major depressive disorder, which is much more difficult to treat and poses significant dangers to the patient.

A minor depressive disorder is a general category for depression and can include a variety of other treatable conditions, which cause serious mood-altering feelings and behaviors. Treatment for this condition is imperative in order for the patient to get back to feeling normal.

Overview of minor depressive disorder

A minor depressive disorder usually becomes classified as a mood disorder which fails to meet the outlined criteria for the designation of major depressive disorder. In order to become classified as a minor depressive disorder, the patient must exhibit two hallmark depressive symptoms for a minimum of two continuous weeks. Because these depressive symptoms are present in a variety of mental disorders, they can fall into the general classification of a minor depressive order until further examination of their symptoms can uncover a more specific diagnosis.

The diagnosis of minor depressive disorder falls under the classification of Depressive Disorder Not Otherwise Specified and warrants classification as DSM-IV-TR in the category DD-NOS on the patient’s official chart. Not all professionals agree with this classification, and it is not the official term for the disorder, but it is used by many mental health professionals to give a description of the patient’s symptoms.

Minor Depressive Disorder Symptoms

A minor depressive disorder is a serious condition that affects the patient for a period of over two weeks and has two to four symptoms of a major depressive disorder. The symptoms normally include sadness and a lack of interest in activities which held a particular interest for the patient previously. These symptoms can become increasingly severe if the condition is not treated properly with the assistance of a medical professional. In most cases, a person exhibits a loss of interest in some of the areas of their everyday life and can have multiple symptoms of depression over an extended period of time. Another criteria for the classification of a minor depressive disorder is the patient must not have experienced the symptoms they feel currently within the last two years.

Generally, a person experiencing a minor depressive disorder is experiencing feelings of sadness or loss of interest in activities they once had a particular interest in, and they can have other correlating symptoms such as weight gain, change in their appetite, fatigue, hypersomnia, insomnia, guilt, agitation, and listlessness. These are just a few of the symptoms that are associated with the minor depressive disorder and are also part of the diagnosis of a major depressive disorder.

Symptoms of a minor depressive disorder create a dangerous state of mind occasionally for the person suffering from this condition. In fact, many people wrongly assume the term minor depressive disorder is not serious and does not require the same degree of attention and treatment as a major depressive disorder. This is untrue because the individuals are still prone to bouts of suicidal thoughts and action. Minor depressive disorders need treatment as a serious situation that requires the patient to seek help from a professional mental health expert to get things under control with a combination of therapy and medication. Proper treatment can help prevent self-harm and the continuation of the symptoms, which can eventually become diagnosed as a major depressive disorder.

Minor Depressive Disorder Causes

The causes of a minor depressive disorder can include a major life event such as loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, marriage or relationship problems, a medical condition, moving, or any other serious life change that leaves the person feeling sad or disconnected. A serious event does not have to occur to trigger minor depressive disorder; however, a poor diet with a lack of exercise can also create minor depressive symptoms. If the person continues with an unhealthy lifestyle, they can develop the symptoms of a major depressive disorder.

Studies documented that people who work in an office most of the day and do not partake in outdoor activities regularly may also suffer the symptoms of a minor depressive disorder more easily than people who work outside or who participate in activities outside in their free time.

In women, a minor depressive disorder may occur directly as a result of hormone imbalance and chemical changes within the body, which becomes labeled as a minor depressive disorder. This condition requires immediate attention to prevent any serious issues. Some women in more serious cases can harm themselves or consider rash actions without the proper medication and therapy. Anyone experiencing symptoms of feeling blue or having dark impulses should alert their mental health professional so they may begin treatment immediately. This condition stems from the imbalance of hormones and their sudden changes and requires treatment with hormone therapy and medications. This type of medical condition can have a serious array of side effects that can create significant changes in personality and mood.

Minor Depressive Disorder Treatments

Treatment for a minor depressive disorder is a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy in conjunction with antidepressant drugs. Is more serious cases which have a degree of anxiety involved, the doctor or psychiatrist may also prescribe sedatives or tranquilizers to help the person get through periods of anxiety or severe symptoms of depression. These drugs help the patient in a short-term sense, rather than treat the condition over a long period of time.

If the case is severe enough, or the patient is having suicidal thoughts or even attempting suicide, they may require an inpatient stay in a facility which specializes in the short-term care of people who need intensive therapy and supervision. When a person stays on an inpatient basis, they undergo frequent analysis and therapy, which can also consist of group therapy with their inpatient peers. They may prescribe a sedative and extended periods of rest in combination with antidepressants to help the person improve their condition in a short amount of time. The inpatient treatment can range in length from around two weeks, to up to a month. If therapy becomes necessary past that amount of time, they may be recommended for commitment to a long-term facility or a state hospital to continue their extensive therapy. Once the patient displays observed normal behavior, they are released on their own supervision.

Most mental health experts rely on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to achieve optimal results, along with antidepressants and mood-enhancing drugs. These treatments help when prescribed for both the short and long term depending on the individual circumstances of the patient, and the severity of the symptoms present at the time of diagnosis. The prognosis for a minor depressive disorder is good if the symptoms get addressed immediately and the patient makes a conscious effort to improve their condition. Many patients tend to fall into substance abuse and self-medicate rather than seek the right type of treatment for their condition.

Self-medication can seriously compound the condition and lead to serious life-threatening issues such as chemical dependency, medical conditions, and self-harm. Anyone experiencing the effects of minor depressive disorder for more than two weeks should immediately seek professional help and get the condition under control so they can get back to normal. Many people suffer from a minor depressive disorder and refuse to seek treatment. This can have effects on both their physical and mental health. Over time these effects can have catastrophic consequences and can lead to life-threatening medical conditions and feeling compelled to participate in self-harm or even suicide.

It is important for individuals to speak up when they begin to notice symptoms of depression. If family or friends begin to notice the person exhibiting symptoms, they must address them with the person and help to convince them to seek treatment to prevent the condition from deteriorating and evolving into major depressive disorder. The label, minor depressive disorder, can be misleading to some, but it is a serious condition that may also include other conditions that require immediate attention and a therapy/medication combination to help the person cope and function on a daily basis.

Minor Depressive Disorder Prevention

Prevention of minor depressive disorder is difficult because in many cases, the condition is triggered as a response to events that occur in a person’ life that may be beyond their control. The best prevention is to minimize personal stress and stress in the workplace if possible. When a traumatic event occurs, it is wise for the person to seek the help of a therapist to begin working through the problems before they have a chance to cause a great deal of personal trauma and depression.

In the event of a serious negative life event such as the loss of a job, or death of a loved one, the person should seek counseling and possibly medication to help get them through their rough patch to help prevent the situation from progressing into a long-term event. People should monitor their emotional states during these major life events and take action when necessary.

Incorporating a healthier lifestyle in conjunction with a regular exercise routine is an excellent way to help combat the effects of stress and depression and should become a part of their everyday routine. This is the best way to ensure a more positive outlook on life and help the body better deal with the negative effects of stress and symptoms of depression. Outdoor activity is also recommended so individuals get at least 15 minutes of exposure to sunlight daily to ensure a more positive outlook and to regulate the body’s internal clock. In addition, getting the proper amount of sleep every night is also one of the most effective tools to have when it comes to combating stress and depression.

Depression is a serious condition that affects many people. Most individuals will experience a bout of depression, more specifically minor depressive disorder, at some point during their lives. It is a common scenario that should be treated as any other medical problem requiring attention in order to return to their normal state of being and regain clear function once again. Anyone suspecting they may have a minor depressive disorder is encouraged to contact their medical health professional, counselor, or even general practitioner and discuss their symptoms. They can help acquire the help the patient needs to get the situation under control.

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Last Reviewed:
September 18, 2017
Last Updated:
September 18, 2017