Melancholic Depression

There are many forms of depression, most often the versions we experience are temporary. Usually as the result of the loss of someone close or loved. In many cases, depression is simply a temporary reaction to events that passes with time.

However, deep or severe depression is a sign of something more seriously wrong.  One form of severe depression is known as melancholia, a fairly common form that strikes tens of thousands of people every year.  This form of depression is found in all parts of the world and in all cultures as well.

What is melancholic depression?

Melancholic depression can best be categorized as a serious form of depression where a person simply feels no joy or love even if they are surrounded by what normally brings them feelings of joy and happiness.

What are the diagnostic criteria?

Melancholic depression is a subtype of major depression which includes at least one or more of the following symptoms;

–       Anhedonia: Unable to find pleasure in positive things or events

–       No increase in mood when exposed to positive events

–       Severe weight loss or lack of appetite

–       Excessive guilt

Those suffering from melancholic depression are often in their worst mood in the mornings and their depression is generally not based in grief or loss, although melancholic depression may seem similar. In essence, melancholic depression can be part of a major depression disorder or even bipolar disorder as well.

How common is it?

Recent studies of all people who have been diagnosed with major depression have found that roughly 25% have melancholic features to their depression.

What are the most frequent causes?

Like most psychological disorders, melancholic depression is believed to be multi-determined and influenced by biological, genetic, psychological and social stressors.   Hence, learning how to cope with the psychological and interpersonal stressors, along with medication, are the most effective forms of treatment.  Melancholic symptoms may also be present in those who suffer from bipolar disorder as well.


There are a number of treatments for melancholic depression which includes cognitive behavior, interpersonal therapy, and other empirically supported skill based treatments to cope with stressors are recommended. The type of treatment will be tailored to the individual patient and their specific needs. Because our treatment center relies on evidence based practices, our Intensive Outpatient Program shares many common methods with other successful treatment methods.  The foundation of our treatment program for relies on the principles of the stages of change, cognitive behavioral therapy, solution focused treatment, skills training and identifying repetitive dysfunctional behavioral relationship patterns to promote recovery from depression and other mental health disorders.  In fact, our Intensive Outpatient Program in Memphis, TN that has been proven to be effective in the treatment of these disorders in six peer reviewed treatment outcome studies.   Our treatment center provides services to those who need more treatment than one hour a week, but less than 24 hour care, by providing three hours of treatment per day, three to five days per week, in an intensive outpatient setting.  If you or a loved one is showing signs of depression or anxiety, they should be assessed by a trained mental health professional who can help design a treatment plan that can result in recovery.  Treatment for depression and anxiety can be highly successful.  Call us at 901-682-6136 to schedule an appointment. Melancholic depression can be treated successfully.