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What is Major Depressive Disorder?

It is estimated that over 17 million Americans suffer from depression. While the disorder can manifest in many different ways, it presents itself in a common and overarching way: an inability to enjoy life or find fulfillment in previously enjoyed activities.

For some people, this can be a minor inconvenience; but for others, it can be a debilitating condition that greatly affects their quality of life. If you are one of the millions of Americans who suffer from clinical depression, there is hope. Meadows Psychiatry offers personalized treatment plans to help you manage your depressive symptoms and live a happy and productive life.

What is major depressive disorder?

Depression is a mood disorder characterized by a persistent feeling of loss and sadness. Clinical depression or major depression affects how you think, feel, and behave, causing various physical and emotional problems. Affected individuals may have challenges going through normal daily activities and may even have suicidal ideation.

Yes, it’s normal to experience sorrow and sadness after losing a loved one or a job. However, if these symptoms persist for several weeks and interfere with your daily functioning, you should contact Dr. Wu, a board-certified mental health professional, for an assessment.


It is important to know that major depression isn’t something someone can snap out of. Also, it’s not a show of weakness, and not everyone experiences it. Even more importantly, it is treatable and doesn’t last forever.


What is major depressive disorder?

For the diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder, five of the following symptoms must be present for at least 2 weeks:

Feelings of sadness, emptiness, tearfulness, or hopelessness

Frustration, irritability, and angry outbursts at small issues

Loss of pleasure or interest in activities like sex, sports, and hobbies

Sleep disturbances like sleeping too much or insomnia

Lack of energy or feeling tired even after small tasks

Loss of appetite or increased food cravings, weight loss, or weight gain

Restlessness, agitation, and anxiety disorder

Slowed body movements, speaking, or thinking

Overwhelming feelings of worthlessness, guilt, or self-blame

Difficulty concentrating, thinking, remembering things, or making decisions

Frequent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, or suicide attempts

Random and unexplained physical symptoms, including headaches and chronic pain

For a patient to be diagnosed with major depression they must experience at least five of these symptoms for a minimum of two weeks.

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Treatment options for clinical depression

The treatment plan Dr. Wu creates depends on the type and severity of depression. For some, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Interpersonal Therapy, and other types of psychotherapy may be sufficient. Others may need a combination of medications, which include antidepressant drugs.

If these treatment options aren’t enough, certain brain stimulation therapies, such as transcranial magnetic stimulation, may be helpful.

People with depression and bipolar disorder, depending on their medical history and depression symptoms, may or may not get a prescription for antidepressants. Everyone’s case is unique, but with Dr. Wu’s expertise in psychopharmacology, you’re guaranteed effective mental health treatment.

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What are SSRIs?

SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) are the “gold standard” psychiatric medications prescribed for major depressive disorder. They ease symptoms of moderate and severe depression, are safe, and have fewer side effects than other antidepressants.

SSRIs work by increasing serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is a chemical neurotransmitter that carries signals between neurons. It’s also responsible for managing your moods, feelings, thoughts, anxiety, and happiness. The SSRIs block the serotonin reuptake in the nerve cells making it more available to improve transmission between neurons.

Although most SSRIs are approved for treating clinical depression, they are also prescribed for panic disorder and anxiety treatment.

Some of the FDA-approved SSRIs include:

  • Escitalopram (Lexopro)
  • Paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva)
  • Citalopram (Celexa)
  • Sertraline (Zoloft)
  • Vilazodone (Viibryd)

Although they are relatively safe, they each have potential side effects and cautions. Each patient will have different reactions to the same antidepressant. Family history plays a significant role in these reactions. If a close relative responded well to a specific antidepressant, it’s a great place to start.

Some genetic tests may provide clues on how the body will react to an antidepressant. Dr. Wu is an expert in medication management. He will consider your depressive symptoms and other medications that have worked for you in the past.

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How about other antidepressants?

Another class of antidepressant medications that are an effective treatment for major depression is norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRIs). Serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine are neurotransmitters associated with symptoms of depression. Norepinephrine increases alertness, while dopamine is a feel-good hormone.

A commonly prescribed norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitor is Wellbutrin (Bupropion). This medication is remarkably effective in treating melancholic depression and Seasonal Affective Depression. It is ideal for patients that don’t respond well to SSRIs.

NDRIs increase the amount of norepinephrine and dopamine in the neurosynaptic cleft resulting in improved concentration and focus. This is why Wellbutrin is also FDA-approved for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder treatment.

Overall, there is a myriad of treatment options that can effectively treat Major Depressive Disorder. Contact Meadows Psychiatry LLC today and set up a consultation with Dr. Wu to discuss which treatment would be best suited for you.


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