Reference Work Entry

Handbook of Clinical Psychology Competencies

pp 637-670

Major Depression

  • Patricia A. AreanAffiliated withUniversity of California
  • , Liat AyalonAffiliated withBar Ilan University


Major depression is the most common condition treated by psychologists. In this book chapter, we first outline the typical symptoms that characterize major depression as well as common risk factors for the development of the disorder. Next, we discuss common diagnostic tools that assist clinicians in the initial recognition of the disorder as well as in further monitoring of the disorder across time. Potential pitfalls and complicating factors related to the diagnosis and monitoring of major depression are also addressed. We then discuss maintaining factors and mechanisms of change associated with major depression, as any psychological intervention has to take these into account when tailoring an appropriate intervention. Finally, we conclude by describing several evidence based treatments available to treat depression and the various outlets available for psychologists who are interested in learning how to apply these treatments in their clinical practice. We conclude by outlining the main competencies required of clinicians interested in working with individuals with major depression. These include: the ability to adequately detect and monitor depression, the ability to make an informed case formulation, the ability to tailor treatment strategies based on existing knowledge concerning maintaining factors and mechanisms of change, and the ability to apply evidence based treatments in the context of evidence based practice.