Recurrent depressive disorder is caused by a combination of genetic, environmental, and psychological factors. Examples of environmental factors include a history of childhood trauma, poverty, and other major life stressors. Genetic factors may also play a role in the development of recurrent depressive disorder, and a family history of depression is often seen in individuals with this condition.
Recurrent depressive disorder is diagnosed based on the patient’s medical history and a mental health evaluation. The patient must present with a history of at least two major depressive episodes, separated by periods of remission, in order to be diagnosed with recurrent depressive disorder. In addition, the patient must experience symptoms of depression for at least two weeks in order to be diagnosed.
Recurrent depressive disorder should be differentiated from other mental health disorders such as bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder. It is also important to differentiate recurrent depressive disorder from other medical conditions such as thyroid problems, nutritional deficiencies, and certain medications that can cause depressive symptoms.
The main form of treatment for recurrent depressive disorder is psychotherapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy. Other forms of therapy, such as family therapy, may also be helpful in managing symptoms. In addition, medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), tricyclic antidepressants, and atypical antipsychotics can be used to manage symptoms.
The prognosis for recurrent depressive disorder is generally good with proper treatment. The majority of individuals with recurrent depressive disorder respond well to psychotherapy and/or medications, and most are able to manage their symptoms with ongoing treatment. However, some individuals may experience long-term symptoms or relapses of depression, so ongoing monitoring and support are important for a good outcome.