Major Depressive Disorder According To DSM-5 | cannabisMD

What Is Major Depressive Disorder According to DSM 5

major depression disorder DSM5

The diagnostics and statistical manual (DSM) is not without its critics. In its 5th major iteration. It is an attempt to categorize all human mental illness and direct psychologists and psychiatrists to the appropriate treatments. It is a manual of mental disorders, and the subject of fierce debate.

The diagnostic criteria are often vague, and the DSM 5’s claims to finally be relating observable mental health issues to biological data is far from solid. The American Psychiatric Association has approved the DSM, but critics are concerned about “changes that seem clearly unsafe and scientifically unsound.”

It is a useful tool; however, it should not be taken as gospel, but the work included in it is a useful statistical manual for identifying and treating mental disorders. There are few alternatives, unfortunately.

The major depressive disorder DSM 5 diagnosis is broad enough to fit many people as suffering from depression. Major depressive disorder is not bipolar disorder. It is considered unipolar, with no manic phase like bipolar disorders or some other mood disorders.

According to the DSM, five or more of the following symptoms must be present for at least 2 weeks and must be a significant change from previous feelings, thoughts, and function. One of the depressive symptoms must be either a loss of interest or pleasure, or depressed mood.

  1. Depressed moodFeelings of depression for most of the day, on all or most days. This is either from self-reporting or other’s observations.
  2. Diminished pleasure or interestSignificant reduction in interest and pleasure for all, or nearly all, previously enjoyable or interesting activities for all or most of the day, on almost all days.
  3. Weight loss without dieting or weight gainAn increase or decrease of weight of more than 5% in a month, an increase or decrease in appetite on all or most days.
  4. Changed sleeping patternsInsomnia or hypersomnia on all or most days.
  5. Restlessness or slownessAs observed by others on most or all days.
  6. Lacking in energy or fatigue
  7. Guilt or worthlessnessInappropriate or excessive feelings of worthlessness or guilt on all or most days.
  8. Concentration, decision making and thinking skills reduced
  9. Suicidal thoughts or thoughts of deathSuicide ideation (thinking constantly about taking your own life or recurrent thoughts of death), suicide attempt, or planning to commit suicide.

If you think you have depression after reading this symptom list, please contact your doctor or, in emergencies, a helpline. If you are thinking about taking your own life or harming yourself, please call the emergency services; they are there to help you.

The above symptoms must be causing significant social, occupational, or functioning distress or impairment for them to be considered a major depressive episode or disorder.

Substance use or medications must be ruled out for a proper diagnosis according to the major depressive disorder DSM 5 criteria.

Risk factors include family history, genetics, substance abuse, trauma, childhood abuse or trauma, head injury, and changes in life circumstances.

Diagnosing Major Depressive Disorder

Only a trained medical health professional can make a diagnosis of major depressive disorder. It is a medical condition and is therefore treatable as such.

Treating Depression

According to the American Psychiatric Association, talk therapies and drugs are the most successful methods of treating major depressive disorder DSM 5 symptoms. Talking to friends and family about your condition can be one of the most successful methods of dealing with depression. In situational depression, you can change circumstances to remove the cause or trigger of the depression. When that does not work, there are therapies and drugs available for treatment.

Drugs for Major Depressive Disorder

The most commonly used drugs used for major depressive disorder DSM 5 symptoms are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. They are usually effective, but large studies have shown there to be serious concerns with long term use; their appropriateness with certain conditions; and their success rate being only just better than placebos for some conditions.


Talking therapies like cognitive behavioural therapies are regarded as the most successful methods for treating most forms of major depressive disorder. Changing the way a person perceives their thoughts and feelings is a good way of gaining some distance from them.

The type of therapy used depends largely on the history, causes and symptoms of the major depressive disorder a person is suffering from. Brains are complex and poorly understood, so it may take a few different attempts at different forms of therapy before the right one for the individual can be found. This is not ideal, but it is the best the world of psychiatry can currently offer.

Many people suffer from depression, you are not alone. There is help available.

Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff
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