What Are the Different Types of Depression?

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Answered by: Summer, An Expert in the Depression: Types Category
The Many Faces of Depression

Despite what many think, depression isn’t a one-size-fits-all condition. While there are some common symptoms between the various types of depression, such as persistent sadness, lack of emotion, appetite changes, and mental fog, each form of depression has its own distinctive warning signs.

Major Depression is the type that immediately comes to mind for most people. In order to be diagnosed with Major Depression, you must have spent the previous two weeks exhibiting signs such as constant poor mood, troubled thinking, and disinterest in former favorite activities. Some people experience only a single episode of Major Depression in their lifetime, but many tend to experience multiple episodes, feeling their symptoms ebb and flow over the years.

Atypical Depression received its title because its symptoms are unusual compared to those of Major Depression. Sufferers of Atypical Depression find that their mood is temporarily responsive to positive events, which can make this variation more difficult to spot. However, this form of depression can be distinguished by symptoms of emotional oversensitivity, excessive eating, weight gain, and oversleeping.

If an individual has been experiencing chronic mild to moderate depression for at least two years, then their condition may be diagnosable as Persistent Depressive Disorder, a type previously known as Dysthymia. The symptoms of PDD are quite similar to those of Major Depression, but are not as intense and severely intrusive upon a person’s life.

When someone experiences manic episodes in addition to their depression, then they may be diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. Manic episodes are defined by risky behavior, minimal sleep, high energy, and hurried mental processes, and the symptoms of depressive episodes are similar to those seen in Major Depression. Bipolar Disorder comes in varied levels of intensity, with “lower-level” symptoms commonly diagnosed as Cyclothymia.

Seasonal Affective Disorder, sometimes known by its appropriate acronym of SAD, shares similar symptoms to those of Major Depression. SAD is differentiated by its cycling with the earth’s seasons, rearing its head during the darker winter months. The cause of SAD is attributed to lack of sufficient sunlight, and symptoms typically dissipate during the spring and summer.

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, not to be confused with Premenstrual Syndrome, is the occurrence of depressive symptoms during the second half of the menstrual cycle. Symptoms include mood variability and irritability, fatigue, and appetite changes. This affects only a very small percentage of women.

While the birth of a new child can be a miraculous and joyous occasion, many women experience temporary symptoms of depression immediately after birth, something known as Post-Partum Depression. This condition is likely the result of the great hormonal flux that accompanies pregnancy. PPD typically lasts for a matter of months after birth, but a small subsection of women can experience more persistent symptoms.

If consistent sadness and fatigue weren't problematic enough, sufferers of Psychotic Depression can also experience paranoia, hallucinations, and delusions. This type of depression is incredibly serious and often requires hospitalization and treatment with antipsychotic drugs. People diagnosed with PD must be kept under constant supervision, as there is a greater risk of suicide.

No matter the specific diagnosis, there are many treatment methods for all types of depression. If you believe that you have been suffering from the symptoms of depression, seek immediate medical advice. Your doctor will likely recommend a course of antidepressants and counseling with a psychotherapist. In addition to medical help, many diagnosed with depression report that the adoption of lifestyle changes, including improved eating habits, increased exercise, and stress-relieving activities, often results in the lessening of their symptoms. Seeking a support system from family and friends is another vital component of successfully controlling depression.

Depression doesn’t need to become the focus of your life – being proactive about your treatment can drastically improve your quality of life. With careful management of your symptoms, you may even find yourself returning to your pre-depresssive state. Taking the first step towards healing will always be the most challenging, but it is much more difficult living with depression than learning how to fight it.

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