Severe Depression Treatment, Causes, & Symptoms

Find out symptoms and treatment options for common levels of depression, including mild, moderate, and severe depression.

Levels of Depression

Depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) classifies depressive disorders into Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder; Major depressive disorder; Persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia); Premenstrual dysphoric disorder; and Depressive disorder due to another medical condition [1]. Inpatient rehab for severe depression treatment is the most effective treatment available. it allows the person to dig deep and to the core.

Common symptoms of all depressive disorders include emptiness, sadness, or irritable mood, accompanied by somatic and cognitive changes that significantly affect the person’s capacity to function. Because of false perceptions, nearly 60% of people struggling with depression do not seek medical help. Many feel that the stigma of a mental health disorder is unacceptable in society and may hinder personal and professional life. There is good evidence indicating that most antidepressants do work, but the individual response to treatment may vary.

What are the levels of depression? Depression levels are commonly described as: mild, moderate or severe depression, with additional categories for psychotic or melancholic depression. The extent to which symptoms prevent a person from functioning in their daily lives determines the level of depression affecting a particular person.

This diagnosis is made when a mental health professional or a doctor takes into account the total number of symptoms, the severity of those symptoms, and their impact on the individual’s ability to function. There are many classification and severity evaluation scales used in psychiatry and much debate over rating scales and their use, but one thing is clear, depression isn’t a single thing; it is many things combined.

What is Mild Depression?

Though mild depression is noticeable, it’s the most difficult to diagnose. It’s easy to dismiss the symptoms and avoid discussing them with your doctor. However, if the symptoms continue for most of the day, on an average of four days a week for two years, you would most likely be diagnosed with persistent depressive disorder. This condition is also known as dysthymia.

Despite the challenges in diagnosis, mild depression is the easiest to treat. Specific lifestyle changes can go a long way in boosting serotonin levels in the brain, which can help fight depressive symptoms. Mild depression involves more than just feeling blue temporarily. Your symptoms can go on for days and are noticeable enough to interfere with your usual activities.

Mild Depression Symptoms

  • Irritability or anger
  • Hopelessness
  • Feelings of guilt and despair
  • Self-loathing
  • A loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Difficulties concentrating at work
  • A lack of motivation
  • A sudden disinterest in socializing
  • Aches and pains with seemingly no direct cause
  • Daytime sleepiness and fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Appetite changes
  • Weight changes
  • Reckless behavior, such as abuse of alcohol and drugs, or gambling

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What is Moderate Depression?

Moderate depression is not listed as a diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). There is no official consensus on whether the number of symptoms is indicative of severity or whether the number of symptoms can be used to classify depression as mild, moderate, or severe. Descriptions of depression severity are left to the discretion of the clinician, who may use depression rating scales to help determine the severity of the condition.

Moderate depression has the same symptoms as mild depression but is slightly more intense. In addition, individuals with moderate depression might also experience somatic symptoms like pain in the stomach or the back, headaches, and even diarrhea. The term somatic refers to bodily sensations that are perceived as being worrisome and unpleasant. 

Additionally, moderate depression may cause:

  • Problems with self-esteem
  • Reduced productivity
  • Excessive worrying
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Increased sensitivities
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Moderate Depression Symptoms

The most significant difference is that the symptoms of moderate depression are severe enough to cause problems at home and work. You may also find significant difficulties in your social life. In addition, moderate depression is more straightforward to diagnose than mild cases because the symptoms significantly impact your daily life. Moderately severe depression is marked by two main symptoms: persistent low mood and decreased interest in activities. Some of the other symptoms of depression include:

  • Avoiding social activities
  • Changes in appetite
  • Decreased productivity
  • Despair and guilt
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Excessive worry
  • Fatigue or lack of energy
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Irritability
  • Lack of motivation
  • Low self-esteem

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What is Severe Depression?

An individual with severe depression might experience all the symptoms of mild/moderate depression, and these symptoms are accompanied by a loss of interest in pleasurable activities. These symptoms strongly affect the individual, so much so that they are unable to function or think properly.

Severe depression is a type of major depressive disorder. People tend to experience their depression as more severe when they have several symptoms of depression or when some depression symptoms are incredibly intense. Depression exists on a continuum, from symptoms that mildly disrupt daily life to those that are totally debilitating.

Episodes of major depression last an average of six months or longer. Sometimes severe depression can go away after a while, but it can also be recurrent for some people. Diagnosis is especially crucial in severe depression, and it may even be time-sensitive.

Severe Depression Symptoms

People with severe depression may have thoughts of suicide or self-harm. They can feel extremely sad and unhappy, unable to focus on anything other than their unhappiness. Their depression may affect their relationships, their perceptions of the world, and their self-image. Some may experience unexplained aches and pains.

Some symptoms of depression include:

  • Depressed mood: A person may feel sad, unhappy, or angry much of the time, even when good things happen.
  • Sleep issues: A person may have trouble sleeping or sleep much more than usual.
  • Appetite issues: People with depression may have changes in appetite and can lose or gain weight without trying.
  • Changes in movement: Some people with depression feel very restless. Others feel unable to move or very slow.
  • Suicidality: People with depression may have thoughts of suicide or self-harm. Some may attempt suicide.
  • Loss of pleasure: People with major depression may have trouble getting pleasure from activities they once enjoyed.
  • Guilt and worthlessness: Depression can affect self-image and self-esteem, making a person feel guilty or worthless.

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Immediate Severe Clinical Depression Treatment

It is also important for people to be able to talk with others. Partners, friends and family play a very important role here. Support and information centers can offer help and guidance too. Sometimes it can help to talk to people who have gone through similar experiences, for example in a support group.

Particularly in moderate or severe depression, it is usually very important to get immediate treatment because the symptoms are very distressing and can last quite a while. This is also true if someone has chronic depression or is thinking of harming or killing themselves (committing suicide).

Severe depression will not go away on its own and requires patients to find relief and move toward managing their symptoms. If left untreated, symptoms may worsen, leading to even more significant psychological trauma and even physical ailments. As a result, it’s critical to find a treatment service that will address the needs of the person battling depression.

What are the Psychological Treatment For Severe Depression Options?

Psychological treatment usually involves talking about things in depth and doing behavioral exercises. The kind of psychological treatment most commonly used for depression is cognitive behavioral therapy (often called “CBT” for short). Statutory health insurance companies in Germany cover the costs of CBT and other outpatient treatments, including depth psychology and systemic therapy. Specially trained therapists often offer them.

When are the Different Medications Considered?

Medication doesn’t help in mild depression. There may be other good reasons to not take medication (at first). For instance, the symptoms sometimes get better without antidepressants after a short while. The possible side effects will also play a role when deciding whether or not to take antidepressants.

But the symptoms may be so bad that it makes sense to use medication. This is particularly true for people who have severe and regularly recurring depression – especially if they are thinking of harming themselves or committing suicide. Sometimes people are only capable of starting psychological treatment once their symptoms have improved a bit due to medication.

Severe Depression Treatment
Severe depression is a treatable mental health condition that should be taken seriously by the person with the disorder and their loved ones. 

Severe Depression Treatment Centers

There are many effective treatments for depression, including inpatient rehab for depression. Inpatient rehab for depression is the most effective treatment available. Over a week to a few months, it allows the person to dig deep and to the core. Inpatient rehab for depression enables the patient to escape the stresses of daily life and focus entirely on their recovery.

In inpatient rehab for depression, people with depression spend one-on-one time with a therapist to help develop healthy coping skills, prevent depression relapse, and discuss the roots of depression. Group therapy is a vital component of inpatient rehab for depression, as it allows individuals facing similar challenges to work together to tackle daily problems and support one another. Families and loved ones are generally involved in inpatient rehab for depression programs as it allows them to learn steps to support and help their loved ones.

At these facilities, individuals with depression check-in and stay for a certain amount of time — the length of which is usually determined by you and a team of mental health professionals. At these inpatient rehab for depression facilities, individuals with depression check in and stay for a certain amount of time — the length of which is usually determined by you and a team of mental health professionals.

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Treatment Severe Depression Near Me

Major depressive disorder (MDD) is often accompanied by substance abuse or dependence. The mental health field has long discussed whether these conditions are independently occurring disorders or are overlapping illnesses intertwined by common etiologic and vulnerability factors. The initial presentation of major depressive disorder can be obscured by the overriding symptoms or side effects of a substance use disorder (SUD).

In the general population, the prevalence of a current substance use disorder in persons with Major depressive disorder (MDD) ranges from 8.5 to 21.4%, with a lifetime prevalence of comorbid SUDs ranging from 27 to 40% [6]. Co-occurring depression has an adverse effect on the course of SUDs. Current depression predicted poorer treatment response and higher rates of relapse.

People who suffer from major depressive disorder can experience severe sadness that lasts weeks or even months at a time. It’s common for those battling mental illness to also struggle with substance abuse. Sometimes it can be difficult to determine which condition came first. People with prolonged periods of profound sadness may reach for drugs or alcohol to ease the pain, feelings, and other symptoms.

However, substance use can make major depressive disorder symptoms more severe. Major depressive disorder increases the risk of accidental injury, suicide, and other forms of self-harm. Add in drugs or alcohol, and the threats to the person’s mental and physical health can be extreme.

To determine the most effective ways for severe depression treatment, it’s crucial first to get an accurate assessment of all the symptoms. When the symptoms have been evaluated by a mental health professional, it may be determined that another form of mental condition is present and needs a particular type of treatment. 

Detox Treatment

The first step in treatment is medical detox. It will help you navigate the complicated withdrawal process but doesn’t address patterns of thought and behavior contributing to substance abuse. Various treatment approaches and settings can help provide the ongoing support necessary to maintain long-term sobriety after you complete detox.

Cravings are very common during detox and can be challenging to overcome. This often leads to relapse. Constant medical care during your stay in a residential treatment center helps prevent relapse. Clinicians can give necessary medication and medical expertise to lessen cravings and the emotional effects of alcohol withdrawals.


Several different modalities of psychotherapy have been used in major depressive disorder treatments, including:

  • CBT treatment for major depressive disorder (CBT) – is an effective treatment that involves changing both the patterns of negative thoughts and the behavioral routines which are affecting the daily life of the depressed person for various forms of depression. 
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy – is a comprehensive mental health and substance abuse treatment program whose ultimate goal is to aid patients in their efforts to build a life worth living. The main goal of DBT is to help a person develop what is referred to as a “clear mind.” 
  • Person-Centered Therapy – is a strategy that allows and encourages clients to understand and resolve their concerns in a safe, supportive environment.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Substance abuse and severe depression often co-occur. In many cases, traumatic experiences can result in a mental health disorder and substance abuse. Dual diagnosis programs treat both of these issues together. The best approach for the treatment of dual diagnosis is an integrated system. This strategy treats both the substance abuse problem and the mental disorder simultaneously. Regardless of which diagnosis (mental health or substance abuse problem) came first, long-term recovery will depend largely on the treatment for both disorders done by the same team or provider.

Medication-Assisted Treatments

Medication-Assisted Treatments (MAT) for mental health disorders are commonly used in conjunction with psychotherapy. This includes the use of medications and other procedures. During the major depressive disorder treatments, the staff from your treatment facility will help you identify what caused your addiction and teach you skills that will help you change your behavior patterns and challenge the negative thoughts that led to your addiction. Sometimes, the pressures and problems in your life lead you to rely on substances to help you forget about them momentarily.

If you or your loved one suffers from alcohol and major depressive disorder, help is just a phone call away. Professional addiction treatment is necessary for fast and effective recovery. Contact us today at We Level Up treatment facility. We provide utmost care with doctors and medical staff available 24/7 for life-changing and lasting recovery. We offer an enhanced opportunity to return to a fulfilling and productive life.

Severe Depression
Severe depression treatment should be individualized based on symptom severity, co-occurring disorders and the patient’s history of mental illness.

Symptoms & Signs Of Depression In Recovery & Tips To Combat Depressive Episodes Video

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[1] [1] NCBI – Severe Depression Treatment
[2] NCBI – Severe Depression Treatment
[3] Depression Treatment – Severe Depression Treatment