Major depressive disorder is a relatively common but severe illness associated with significant impairment in functioning. It was identified as the fourth leading cause of disability worldwide in 1990, and it is predicted to be the leading cause of disability by 2020 (Murray & Lopez, 1996). Major depression is an episodic disorder — that is, individuals suffering from depression typically have one or more periods of depression (called episodes) that may fluctuate in duration or severity.
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