As with many diagnoses in the DSM-IV (the authority on mental health labels), those related to depression have a variety of qualifiers that further define the severity of a difficulty that a given diagnosis is intended to describe. Major Depression is its own diagnosis and is well-described by its name. Individuals who struggle with Major Depression experience repeated, prolonged episodes of depressed mood, which may include a lack of interest in formerly-pleasurable activities, weight loss, difficulty with sleep (either sleeping too much or having difficulty falling asleep), feelings of low self worth, and difficulty with concentration.
It is important to note that everyone’s experience of depression, and even how the word depression is used, is different. Your experience need not fit neatly into a particular set of diagnostic criteria. If you are in emotional pain, you have a right to get help, and there are many ways of growing out of that pain. Elsewhere on this site you can find further exploration of what psychotherapy for depression and group therapy for depression may look like, as well as information on Dysthymic Disorder (or Dysthymia), which is another diagnosis related to depression.
For many, short-term or long-term psychiatric medications are also a consideration, although many people work to avoid this, or view it as a last resort. The creative therapy that I practice can be an alternative to medication, though a choice to take medication is not at odds with our work together. For some, this is a serious decision; while I do not prescribe medication myself (only a psychiatrist or psychiatric nurse can do that), I can help you explore your options.
Another important factor when seeking help for Major Depression (especially when considering psychiatric medications) is ruling out the possibility that the depression is not a product of bi-polar disorder, which is a related mood disorder that is characterized by fluctuations in mood ranging from depressed to manic (a state of intense euphoria often accompanied by psychosis). While any good psychiatrist will explore this question carefully, overlooking the presence of bi-polar disorder can be potentially dangerous as many medications used in the treatment of depression can cause serious problems for individuals with bi-polar disorder. It is important to talk through this with your doctor or nurse practitioner.