We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is a Major Depressive Episode?

Jessica Ellis
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A major depressive episode is a significant period of mood, behavioral, and psychological changes often associated with depression. Depressive episodes may occur once or repeatedly, and may be a sign of a larger mood disorder, such as bipolar disorder. Psychology experts define a major depressive episode as adherence to at least five of the major symptoms of negative impairment over at least a two week period. Some of the symptoms common to a major depressive episode include sleep and energy changes, appetite changes, consistent depression or irritability, lack of pleasure or interest in daily activities, and episodes of lethargy or agitation.

The diagnosis of a major depressive episode is outlined in many psychology reference manuals, including the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, better known as the DSM-IV. According to the diagnostic outline, patients may have a combination of at least five qualifying criteria to be considered in the midst of a major depressive episode. Symptoms considered in the diagnosis should not be attributable to any existing medical or drug-induced condition. To be considered for diagnosis, the symptoms must include consistent symptoms of depression, or a marked lack in interest or enjoyment of life for at least two weeks.

Feeling deeply sad, hopeless, or depressed is probably the most significant symptom of a major depressive episode. Thoughts of death or suicide may be common, and some studies show a link between depressive episodes and an increased risk of suicide. People experiencing feelings of depression can go through various manifestations of the condition, including crying fits, increased irritability, emotional numbness, physical symptoms such as headaches, and chronic fatigue.

In a major depressive episode, sleep and energy levels can be significantly affected. Sleeping too much or too little can both be symptoms of major depressive episodes, so long as the changes marks a significant alteration from normal sleeping patterns. While it may not be surprising that those suffering from lack of sleep will become lethargic or constantly fatigued, even people sleeping far more than usual may also feel exhausted all the time.

Increased or decreased appetite that results in significant weight gain or loss may be considered a symptom of a major depressive episode. People suffering from depression-related appetite issues may not feel hungry or feel constantly hungry. Some may experience food cravings, especially for sugary foods or those high in carbohydrates. Decreased appetite may be a somewhat more common symptom of a major depressive episode.

A significant depressive episode may resolve without psychological treatment, but it can also be an important sign that a person is in need of aid. Episodes can be brought on by acute traumas, such as the death of a loved one, but may also be signs of a larger mood disorder with no immediate cause. A person in the midst of a depressive episode can be in danger of harming his or her career, personal relationship, or even committing suicide. Psychological evaluation can help determine if symptoms of depression may add up to a major depressive episode.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Jessica Ellis
By Jessica Ellis
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis brings a unique perspective to her work as a writer for WiseGeek. While passionate about drama and film, Jessica enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics, creating content that is both informative and engaging for readers.
Discussion Comments
Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis...
Learn more
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.