Academic journal article Career Planning and Adult Development Journal


Academic journal article Career Planning and Adult Development Journal


Article excerpt

There are several aspects of the human experience involved in career decision making. While career decision making occurs both with and without the guidance of trained career services professionals, various career theories and models exist to provide explanations of the decision-making process, and what factors should be included to effectively execute these decisions. Deliberate career decision making is dependent upon phases such as orientation, exploration, and commitment building (Gati & Asher, 2001). These stages typically begin with an individual's presenting concern, revolving around occupational or educational choices, usually with a variety of background factors impacting this decision.

According to Sampson, Reardon, Peterson, & Lenz (2004), career problems can hold more complexity than other problems for a variety of reasons, including reconciling one's own opinion of his or her best interest with that of loved ones or cultural groups, being overwhelmed with the amount of readily available career information, keeping up with economic change, the ambiguity of following different paths to attain a career goal, and the powerful emotions that can accompany this important problem solving process.

A diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD; American Psychiatric Association, 2013) might further complicate the complex process of career decision making. Given the benefit of cognitive clarity defined as "the ability to objectively assess one's own strength and weaknesses and relate the assessment to environmental situations" (Brown & Brooks, 1991, p. 5), clients experiencing MDD may experience inherent obstacles to effective career decision-making. Individuals may look for resolutions to these often complicated decisions by enlisting the help of a career practitioner, who may use a multitude of methods to assist clients with their career concerns. This article contains an overview of Major Depressive Disorder and its relationship to aspects of career development assistance. The authors' primary intention is to provide career practitioners with practical strategies for effectively addressing the career development needs of those experiencing MDD.

Major Depressive Disorder


The National Institute of Mental Health states that depression is one of the most common mental health concerns in the United States (2015). The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) found that in 2012, nearly 16 million adults aged 18 or older in the U.S. reported at least one major depressive episode in the past year, representing 6.9 percent of all U.S. adults (NIMH, 2015). Globally, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that depression affects about 350 million people worldwide (WHO, 2015). Depression can interfere with a person's functioning at school, at work, and in social relationships. In its most debilitating state, depression has been found to relate to overall poorer general health and suicide (Kawakami et al., 2012; Smits & Huijts, 2015).


According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-V; American Psychiatric Association, 2013), the major markers for MDD are depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure for period of 2 weeks or longer. Additional indicators of depression include changes in sleep patterns, significant weight loss, fatigue or loss of energy, feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness, difficulty concentrating, or a recurrent thought of death or suicidal ideation without a specific plan or attempt. The DSM-5 criteria for depression note that the presence of these symptoms must be so severe that they cause clinically significant distress in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. Finally, the symptoms must not be better explained by another disorder, such as schizophrenia, grief, bereavement, mood disorder, or other disorders (APA, 2013). In relation to career development, these symptoms can create challenges with career decision making and problem solving as the ability to have the requisite energy and accurate self-perception to effectively address a career development concern may be lacking. …

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