Is Major Depressive Disorder A Disability? Here’s The Answer 2023

is major depressive disorder a disability
MDD causes depression or lack of interest in activities.

Clinical depression is a serious mental disorder that affects millions of people all over the world. It’s a state of mind that goes beyond simple sadness. Sleeping, remembering, and eating may all be negatively impacted by depressive symptoms. 

The World Health Organization reports that more than 280 million[1] people worldwide suffer from depression, making it the leading cause of disability among family members. Depression of the severe and chronic kind is known as major depressive disorder or MDD. 

But is major depressive disorder a disability? Are depression and anxiety considered disabilities? 

Read on to learn more about the legal and medical definitions of depression as a disability, as well as your legal protections, options for obtaining disability benefits, and requests for reasonable accommodations. 

In addition, we will investigate funding options and supplemental security income for depressed people as well as provide some guidance on where to get professional help for those with depression and their loved ones.

Is Major Depressive Disorder A Disability?

Major depressive disorder is classified as a mental health disability if it severely hinders an individual’s ability to function properly in everyday life. According to research, MDD affects millions of people globally. Persistent depressive symptoms describe the mental illness, with bouts spanning weeks to months. It may make daily life difficult by instilling feelings of despair, pessimism, and self-doubt.

When Is Major Depressive Disorder A Disability?

Whether or not MDD is a disability is determined by the way we define disability. The Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA,[2] defines disability as a physical or mental health condition that substantially limits one or more major life activities. This term, which is meant to be comprehensive, encompasses a wide variety of mental disorders, from moderate to severe, including MDD.

A person who suffers from MDD must produce proof that their disease substantially impairs one or more fundamental everyday functions in order to achieve disability classification under the ADA. These key life activities might include participating in social contacts or taking care of one’s own self-care needs. In order for the condition to be regarded as terminal, it is required that it be predicted that it will last for a minimum of one year.

It is essential to understand that just because you have been diagnosed with MDD does not mean you are eligible for disability benefits. The individual’s typical activities must be significantly limited due to the severity of the condition. For this reason, the treatment history of a patient or the records kept by a mental health practitioner might be used as evidence to back up this claim.

What Are The Rights?

According to the ADA, a person is eligible for certain accommodations if it’s determined they have MDD. For instance, persons have the legal right[3] to seek adjustments at their place of employment that would make it feasible for them to carry out their job tasks even though they have a disability. Flexible working hours, decreased labor, and medical leave are a few examples of accommodations that fall under this category.

In addition, employers are expected to make appropriate adaptations for workers who have MDD, provided that doing so does not place an excessive strain on the company in terms of either its financial or administrative resources. This suggests that a company may need to make a few simple alterations to the workplace in order to accommodate an employee who suffers from MDD so that the individual may continue to perform their job duties.

Patients who suffer from MDD are afforded the same level of legal protection from discrimination in the job.[3] Under federal law, it’s unlawful to discriminate against current or prospective workers or applicants on the basis of a disadvantage, including MDD. This protection extends to employment-related decisions like hiring and firing, promotions, and everything else that goes along with a job.

Depression Disability Benefits & How To Apply

It is possible for a person who has been diagnosed with MDD and is unable to work as a direct result of their condition to be eligible for benefits under the Social Security Disability Insurance program. You should be aware that to get benefits from the Social Security Administration, which is also referred to as the SSA, you will first need to provide evidence that the condition has rendered you completely unable to maintain gainful employment. In other words, to be eligible, you must have an MDD condition that has seriously hampered your ability to work for at least a year.[4]

The SSA takes into consideration a variety of criteria[4] before determining whether or not to award disability benefits to an individual who has applied for them. Age, professional experience, and one’s medical history are all crucial factors to take into account. It is important to keep in mind that submitting an application for disability benefits on your own may be difficult and time-consuming. You should consider the assistance of an expert disability attorney or advocate for fast processing. 

Those diagnosed with MDD and unable to work due to the condition may discover that getting a disability claim is a lifeline if they are approved. However, it’s crucial to note that these benefits don’t provide a considerable amount, and they may not come close to paying an individual’s whole cost of living.

Financial Assistance Programs For Depression

Disability benefits are only one of the many ways that individuals who have MDD may be eligible to get assistance with their financial situation. Even though medication, mental health therapy, and other treatments for depression symptoms may be financially out of reach for some people, there are programs to help those with financial needs.

One initiative, known as the Patient Assistance Program,[5] or PAP, assists persons with low incomes in obtaining the necessary medication at a price that is either lowered or perhaps waived entirely. Several pharmaceutical companies’ websites feature PAP apps for various medications.

Also, those who need depression treatment but don’t have the financial means to pay for it may get assistance[6] through the Mental Health America Financial Assistance Fund. The funds might be used for things like therapy, medication prescribed by a doctor to treat the condition or other mental health conditions.

Additionally, those who have been given a diagnosis of MDD and who satisfy the qualifying prerequisites are eligible to make an application for help[6] via Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. These programs may provide low-income people with financial help, which allows them to purchase necessities like food and medication even if their income is limited.

The Bottom Line

If you’ve been wondering if you can get disability for depression, you now have the answer. Clinical depression is a very severe medical condition that has a substantial negative influence on the lives of a considerable number of individuals. When a person’s capacity to engage in regular day-to-day activities is significantly hindered as a result of having a chronic depressive illness, we refer to this as a disability. If the person with the mental illness is unable to work as a result of their disease, they should be able to present adequate medical documentation and confirmation to qualify for disability benefits[6] from the SSA as well as other financial support programs. 

It would be beneficial for those who are experiencing difficulty controlling their MDD to seek the counseling and care of specialists. Treatment options may include making adjustments to one’s diet, participating in talk therapy, taking medication, or taking any number of other possible courses of action. 

Overall, people who have major depressive disorder have the ability to live full lives provided they get the proper therapy and care for their condition.

+ 6 sources

Health Canal avoids using tertiary references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic researches from medical associations and institutions. To ensure the accuracy of articles in Health Canal, you can read more about the editorial process here

  1. World (2023). Depressive disorder (depression). [online] Available at:,due%20to%20suicide%20every%20year.
  2. (2018). Depression. [online] Available at:
  3. US EEOC. (2016). Depression, PTSD, & Other Mental Health Conditions in the Workplace: Your Legal Rights. [online] Available at:
  4. (2023). Depression and Social Security Disability. [online] Available at:
  5. (2021). Pharmaceutical Manufacturer Patient Assistance Program Information | CMS. [online] Available at:
  6. (2022). Financial Help for Mental Health: Treatment, Employment & Housing. [online] Available at:
Teresa Mboci

A dedicated pediatric nurse with a passion for nutrition and wellness, Teresa has made it her mission to empower families with the tools and knowledge they need to promote optimal health and well-being in their children. With over 8 years of experience in the healthcare field and a background in nutrition, Teresa brings a unique perspective to the challenges facing families today. In her role as a pediatric nurse, Teresa has seen firsthand the impact that diet and lifestyle can have on a child's health, and in her writing, she shares her expertise and insights with a broader audience. Whether through her books, articles, or speaking engagements, Teresa is committed to helping families navigate the complexities of pediatric health and wellness with confidence and compassion.

Medically reviewed by:

Jennifer Olejarz

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