what is mdd disorder

What is MDD Disorder?

Individuals who suffer from major depressive disorder (MDD) often feel trapped inside a foggy gray bubble that holds them captive all day long. MDD is a debilitating mental health condition that saps energy, limits productivity, taints relationships, and generally wreaks havoc on one’s quality of life. Major depression is nothing to be ignored or minimized, as potentially devastating consequences can occur as a result of untreated depression. Understanding what is MDD disorder and getting timely treatment can literally be lifesaving.

One of the challenges of an MDD diagnosis is finding a treatment protocol that is not only effective in minimizing the symptoms of depression, but is tolerable as well. Antidepressant drug therapy is renowned for adverse effects, making that option sometimes very disappointing. In addition to the multiple side effects of the drugs, antidepressants only help reduce depression symptoms in about half the patients who trial them.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) offers a safe and effective solution for individuals who have not experienced successful outcomes with antidepressants. TMS is noninvasive, which means there is no anesthesia involved, no incisions or surgical procedures, and no down time required. For someone who is suffering from MDD and has not responded to traditional treatment, TMS offers new hope.

What is MDD Disorder?

Major depressive disorder is a serious mental health disorder that impacts over 16 million Americans each year. Leaning about what is MDD disorder begins with understanding what it is not. MDD is not the feelings of sadness or low mood that accompany a difficult life event. Those temporary bouts of the blues are directly attributed to a specific negative event, such as the death of a loved one, a divorce, a job loss, or some other event that results in feelings of sorrow. Most of us recover from such events over a period of weeks or months without the need for any intervention by a mental health practitioner.

MDD typically features a cluster of symptoms that have persisted for more than two weeks for most of the time in that period. These symptoms include:

  • Persistent sadness, hopelessness, despair
  • Diminished interest in usual activities or hobbies
  • Change in appetite leading to weight gain or loss
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia
  • Feeling sluggish or agitated
  • Fatigue
  • Feelings of inappropriate guilt, worthlessness, or shame
  • Problems with concentration or decision-making
  • Thoughts of suicide

Because depression is a complex and often mysterious mental health disorder, it is often not known exactly what causes MDD. However, factors that have been identified as potentially causal include a family history of depression, medical conditions, brain chemistry imbalance, traumatic life events, and co-occurring substance use disorders.

Treatment For MDD

The standby treatment regimen for MDD continues to be a combination of antidepressant drug therapy and psychotherapy. With a wide range of antidepressants available, the mental health professional will select the one considered most likely to help. Treatment effects take 4-6 weeks, so the trialing period can be quite prolonged. When a doctor selects an antidepressant they weigh the potential benefits against the side effects and hope to find the best fit. However, side effects from antidepressants, such as weight gain, fatigue, sexual dysfunction, insomnia, dry mouth, blurred vision, and nausea can make the drugs intolerable.

Psychotherapy is useful in providing an outlet for patients with MDD to discuss their personal issues with a therapist. The therapist will often utilize cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help the individual shift any negative self-talk toward more positive and affirming thoughts. CBT is a short-term therapy and can be very helpful in modifying the disordered thought patterns that might be contributing to the depression.


Only about 50% of the individuals place on antidepressants for MDD treatment actually experience relief from their symptoms, unfortunately. After trialing a few different drugs or tweaking dosing, if there hasn’t been any measurable improvement in the depression then the patient is diagnosed as having medication-resistant MDD. For these individuals, TMS therapy provides a very promising treatment alternative.

TMS therapy works by using magnetic fields that deliver electrical currents into the brain. The consistent application of these 40-minute treatment sessions can potentially reset brain chemistry in the depressed patient by stimulating dormant or sluggish neurons in the mood center of the brain.

During the in-office TMS therapy sessions the patient is wide awake and needs no sedation. There is no recovery time needed after the sessions, so patients can immediately return to their daily routines. TMS therapy is very well tolerated with only fleeting minor side effects sometimes reported, such as headache or scalp tenderness. After 4-6 weeks of sessions, the individual may experience boosted energy, better sleep quality, sharper concentration, and improved overall mood.

Anew Era TMS Provides Comprehensive MDD Treatment

Anew Era TMS is a leader in the field of TMS therapy for treating people with medication-resistant MDD, and serves Orange County, California. Anew Era TMS offers a full array of mental health services as well as TMS therapy. For more information or to ask what is MDD disorder and are you a candidate for TMS, please contact Anew Era TMS today at (888) 503-1549.

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