Recurrent Major Depression: Symptoms And Treatment

At some point in our lives, it is normal to feel sadness and even if we don’t like it, it is necessary for our development as a person. However, we must keep in mind that sometimes it is not a simple sadness but rather we are developing a pathological process, such as depression, which affects both our behaviors and mood as well as our health, etc. There are different types of depression and in this PsychologyFor article we are going to focus on the recurrent major depressionexplaining what their symptoms and treatment.

What is recurrent major depression?

Major depression, also known as major depressive disorder, is characterized by a persistent feeling of sadness in all areas of a person’s life and due to a lack of interest in any type of activity that previously seemed pleasurable or rewarding.

It can occur in a single episode or recurrently (the person has more than one episode). It is rare for depression to appear as a single episode.

Symptoms of major depression

For it to be major depression, they must be present at least one of the following symptoms for a minimum period of 2 weeks:

  • Sad, irritable mood (frustration, anger, etc.) persistent throughout the day and present most days.
  • Decreased ability to enjoy things or activities in which you previously showed interest.

And, in addition, the above may be accompanied by other symptoms such as:

  • Sleep problems, the person may not be able to fall or stay asleep, or may sleep excessively.
  • Physical fatigue.
  • There may be an increase or decrease in appetite.
  • Anxiety, agitation, restlessness, or slow thinking, speech, and movement almost every day.
  • Feelings of guilt.
  • Low self-esteem.
  • Decreased ability to concentrate that can affect planning.
  • Suicidal ideation and attempts.
  • Somatizations (appearance of physical pain).

These symptoms negatively interfere in different areas of the person’s life such as family, work and social life, being highly disabling.

Major depression: treatment

If the person does not receive treatment, the symptoms can last for months or years. However, appropriate treatment can help most people suffering from depression.

Treatment may vary depending on the severity of the symptoms, the disorders suffered at the same time, the patient’s preferences and their response to previous treatments. In severe cases, the most appropriate treatment is usually psychotherapy combined with psychotropic drugs. Although depending on the severity and age, the specialist will tell you the steps to follow.

Psychological treatment of major depression

Psychological treatment It mainly consists of:

  • Provide guidelines that the person should include in their daily life, such as practicing exercise, training in relaxation techniques and anxiety control, improving sleep habits, how to organize free time…
  • Manage the negative and irrational thoughts that are affected and replace them with more adaptive ideas or beliefs. This is essential in people at risk of suicidal ideation or attempts.
  • Problem-solving strategy training: Deficits in these skills are related to depression.
  • Training in social competence (assertive training).
  • It is advisable to do periodic reviews to check if the person has incorporated what they have learned into their life.

Currently, the psychological therapies that have shown the most effectiveness are cognitive-behavioral and interpersonal therapy.

Recurrent major depression: symptoms and treatment - Psychological treatment of major depression

Major depression: pharmacological treatment

Although in less serious cases of depression or in other types of depression, the application of psychotropic drugs is not always necessary, in severe cases of the depressive disorder, such as when it becomes recurrent, the administration of different psychotropic drugs is recommended for a certain period of time. Its objective is to promote recovery and prevent the patient from relapse in the future. The most used are:

  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs): They are the most used and are usually the first option in the pharmacological treatment of depression. They have fewer side effects and some of the best known are Fluoxetine, Paroxetine or Citalopram.
  • Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) such as Climipramine or Amitriptyline
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs): They are used less frequently than the previous ones due to their side effects, Iproniazid is an example.

This article is merely informative, at PsychologyFor we do not have the power to make a diagnosis or recommend a treatment. We invite you to go to a psychologist to treat your particular case.

If you want to read more articles similar to Recurrent major depression: symptoms and treatment we recommend that you enter our Clinical Psychology category.


1- Angst J, Hengartner M, Ajdacic-Gross V and Rössler W. Is the two-week duration criterion optimal for major depression? Spanish Acts of Psychiatry. 2014;42(1); 18-27

2- Clinical Practice Guide on the management of depression in adults. Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality (2014)

3- Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders DSM-5. American Psychiatric Association. 2014

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