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How to recognize a major depressive episode

The major depressive episode is characterized by a depressed mood accompanied by a lack of interest in activities and situations in general. Unlike depressive disorder, the major depressive episode lasts approximately 2 weeks, during which time the person experiences a series of symptoms that accompany this depressed state. These symptoms include changes in appetite or weight, sleep disturbances, as well as loss of energy, feelings of guilt, low self-esteem, difficulty thinking, concentrating, and thoughts related to death or suicidal ideas (many of which can be carried out). Next, we will introduce you to how to detect a major depressive episode.

Steps to follow:

  1. Mood. The person who goes through a major depressive episode feels sad, discouraged throughout the day. At first, this change in attitude is not detected by the person, but as the days go by, it becomes more and more evident. Irritability is also one of the most frequent feelings in these cases. The change in mood is also evident through the person’s facial expression and behavior, which at all times transmits reluctance.
  2. Duration. The major depressive episode has a duration that varies, but does not usually last more than 4 months. Its onset is usually gradual, that is, the symptoms begin to appear as the days go by. Once overcome, the symptoms tend to disappear completely and the person usually returns to his usual state before the episode.
  3. Loss of interest. Those activities that used to give you pleasure have now ceased to interest you. Work, sports, hobbies, even sexual behavior has decreased significantly.  The person feels appeased and cannot experience pleasure from those activities that previously interested and fulfilled him. This behavior is usually noticed in the first place, by relatives or close friends, who see how the person gradually isolates himself and abandons his interests.
  4. Decreased or increased appetite. The most common in these cases is that there is a notable decrease in appetite that is reflected in a significant loss of weight. In the most serious cases, hospitalization is often necessary to avoid serious consequences.  However, the person may noticeably gain weight and show an almost compulsive eating behavior. In these cases, it is usually an increase in sweets and junk food.
  5. Sleep disturbance. It is mainly characterized by insomnia. But not in all cases there is a lack of sleep but in some cases, less frequent, there is an excess of the need to sleep. In the case of insomnia, it is common to have difficulty falling asleep and maintaining it throughout the night, which is why you usually wake up several times during the night or wake up earlier than usual. In the case of hypersomnia (excessive need to sleep), the person usually sleeps long hours during the day.
  6. Psychomotor changes. Here what is called agitation or slowing can occur. In the case of agitation, the person is in continuous movement, cannot remain seated or still. On the contrary, when their behavior is characterized by slowing down, the person acts, responds and thinks slowly, so they appear to be in slow motion.
  7. Lack of energy. It is common for a person who goes through a major depressive episode to experience tiredness and fatigue, in the absence of activities that justify it.  This lack of energy is reflected in everyday tasks like work or extracurricular activities.  This fact inevitably affects the social, family and work life of the person.
  8. Guilty feeling. It has to do with a misinterpretation of facts or events generated in the past today. The person tends to blame himself for facts that are out of his reach or tends to exaggerate situations in order to reinforce his feeling. In this way, in addition to being guilty, they feel useless for not being able to change the situation.
  9. Decreased ability to think, concentrate, or make decisions. This symptom is usually reflected mainly in the work and academic environment. In these cases, the person due to said decrease suffers a significant decrease in performance. If the major depressive episode is treated quickly and successfully, these symptoms tend to disappear quickly.
  10. Thoughts related to death. The thoughts that exist around this subject are varied. They can range from simple ideas to attempts at self-elimination. It is very important to keep this symptom in mind due to the consequences that it entails. Those who go through a major depressive episode can, in the most serious cases, plan their suicide and even carry it out.
  11. Absence of medical illness. It is important to be able to distinguish the major depressive episode from a secondary symptom of another medical condition or disorder. That is why it is extremely important to consult a specialist doctor to be able to rule out such diagnoses.

This article is merely informative, we do not have the power to prescribe any medical treatment or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

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