Understanding ICD 10 Code for MDD Major Depressive Disorder

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Introduction icd 10 code for mdd

Major depressive disorder (MDD), commonly known as clinical depression, is a serious medical illness that negatively affects how an individual feels, thinks, and acts. The condition causes feelings of sadness and/or loss of interest in activities that one used to enjoy. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and decrease one’s ability to function at work and at home. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide and affects more than 300 million people of all ages globally.

In the United States, MDD affects nearly 7% of adults each year. It is more prevalent in women than men. The median age of onset is 32 years old. However, MDD can develop at any age. Older adults, teens, and children can also suffer from major depression.

To provide effective treatment, it is critical that healthcare providers accurately diagnose MDD based on the patient’s symptoms and correctly document the condition in the medical record. This is where ICD-10 coding comes into the picture.

What is ICD-10?

ICD-10 stands for the International Classification of Diseases, 10th revision. It is a diagnostic coding system developed by WHO to classify diseases, signs/symptoms, abnormal findings, complaints, social circumstances, and external causes of injury/disease.

Within the United States, the ICD-10 CM (clinical modification) is the HIPAA-mandated code set for medical diagnosis reporting. It consists of 69,000 alphanumeric diagnosis codes that are utilized by healthcare providers, medical billers, and coders to properly document and specify patient conditions like MDD.

Each ICD-10 code has a certain level of specificity that facilities effective communication about medical conditions between providers, payers, researchers, health information technicians, and others involved in patient care.

Why is ICD 10 Code for MDD Important?

Correct ICD-10 coding for MDD is crucial for numerous reasons:

  • It provides specificity to distinguish MDD from other similar mood disorders. Healthcare providers can zero in on the exact type of depressive disorder based on presenting symptoms.
  • It helps inform treatment plans and enables monitoring of patient progress over time.
  • Accurate statistics regarding disease prevalence, morbidity, and mortality rates require precise ICD-10 coding of MDD diagnoses. This data is used by public health agencies to determine priorities, allocate resources and drive prevention efforts.
  • It facilitates seamless communication between mental healthcare providers and other medical practitioners involved in the patient’s overall care.
  • Proper ICD-10 coding is mandatory for reimbursement from insurance companies. Incorrect codes can lead to denied or delayed claims.

ICD-10 Codes for Major Depressive Disorder


The ICD-10 code categories below are commonly used to specify MDD:

F32 Depressive episode

This parent code indicates the presence of a depressive episode on initial assessment. It should be used only when an individual first presents with symptoms of depression before any differentiation is made between an isolated episode versus a recurrent episodic disorder.

F32.0 Major depressive disorder, single episode, mild

This code denotes the presence of a mild degree of depressive symptoms that meet the criteria for a major depressive episode. Mild is defined as few if any symptoms beyond the minimum to make the diagnosis and symptoms result in only minor impairment in occupational/social functioning.

F32.1 Major depressive disorder, single episode, moderate

This code specifies a major depressive episode of moderate severity, typically considered as intermediate between mild and severe. Symptoms/functional impairment are more pronounced than mild but do not completely prohibit occupational/social functioning.

F32.2 Major depressive disorder, single episode, severe without psychotic features

This code indicates a severe major depressive episode whereby multiple symptoms markedly interfere with occupational and social functioning. Depressive thoughts/behaviors dominate the clinical picture.

F32.3 Major depressive disorder, single episode, severe with psychotic features

This specifies a severe major depressive episode that includes delusions, hallucinations, or depressive stupor. For example, a patient may have nihilistic delusions about impending death/punishment or hallucinations of guilt/persecution.

F32.4 Major depressive disorder, single episode, in partial remission

Partial remission indicates that full criteria for a major depressive episode were previously met but symptoms now fall below the threshold, while a period of recovery is in progress. Some residual symptoms may persist.

F32.5 Major depressive disorder, single episode, in full remission

A full remission code denotes that full criteria for a major depressive episode were previously fulfilled but no significant signs/symptoms of the disturbance persist. The individual has returned to their normal state of functioning.

F33 Major depressive disorder, recurrent

This code indicates the presence of recurrent major depressive episodes ie two or more episodes, without full remission between them. It should be assigned for follow-up care when the provider has previously established the recurrent nature of MDD episodes.

F33.0 Major depressive disorder, recurrent, mild


This code denotes recurrent episodes of mild major depression, based on previously described criteria for judging mild severity.

F33.1 Major depressive disorder, recurrent, moderate

This indicates recurrent major depressive episodes that are moderate in severity, as delineated above.

F33.2 Major depressive disorder, recurrent severe without psychotic features

This code specifies recurrent episodes of severe major depression without any psychotic features. Significant impairment dominates the clinical picture.

F33.3 Major depressive disorder, recurrent, severe with psychotic symptoms

This code indicates a current severe MDD episode with psychotic features in the context of a recurrent disorder marked by multiple separate episodes of illness.

F33.40 Major depressive disorder, recurrent, in remission, unspecified

This code signifies that the patient previously met the full criteria for recurrent MDD but currently has no significant symptoms, while in an uncertain period of recovery.

F33.41 Major depressive disorder, recurrent, in partial remission

Partial remission indicates residual depression symptoms remain but no longer reach the threshold for a full depressive episode.

F33.42 Major depressive disorder, recurrent, in full remission

This code specifies complete abatement of all significant symptoms of depression, with a return to the usual state of functioning.

Correctly coding the type of depressive episode (single versus recurrent), severity level, presence of psychotic features, and remission status provides essential detail to inform diagnosis and treatment of MDD.

Other Key Guidelines for Coding Major Depression

  1. If MDD co-occurs with another mental health disorder like anxiety, both conditions should be coded separately rather than using EMR “cluster codes”.
  2. When MDD is precipitated by a medical condition or medication side effect, the underlying cause should be coded first followed by the appropriate MDD code.
  3. If a patient has a history of bipolar disorder as well as MDD, documentation should differentiate symptoms attributable to each condition.
  4. Suicidal ideation should be coded separately from MDD to highlight this high-risk symptom.
  5. Z codes may be listed after the MDD diagnosis to identify psychosocial stressors contributing to depression, like unemployment or marital discord.

Be as specific as possible. For example, instead of the generic code F32.9, select F32.1 to denote a single episode, moderate major depression.
Accurate coding requires clear, comprehensive documentation of the patient’s symptom severity, illness course, clinical presentation, functional limitations, past psychiatric history, and relevant psychosocial factors. Healthcare providers play a pivotal role in ensuring documentation accuracy to support proper ICD-10 code selection for MDD. With the right coding, patients can access appropriate treatment while providers and facilities can secure proper reimbursement for rendered services.

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