There are many different types of depression that fall under the “clinical depression” umbrella that millions of people suffer from every day. Clinical depression is more than just a general sense of sadness that most people experience at different times during their lives, but it is an illness that can severely disrupt and affect someone’s everyday life and activities.
Clinical depression involves a combination of depression symptoms that last at least two weeks that disrupt a person’s normal routine or well being, such as not wanting to leave the house, sleeping the day away and total withdrawal or isolation from family and friends to name some examples. General sadness usually subsides after a few days or a couple of weeks but anything longer lasting might be cause for concern and professional help may be advisable.
Some of the different types of depression include major depression, seasonal depression, bipolar disorder, psychotic depression, dysthymia, postpartum depression and atypical depression. Below is a quick rundown of some of these various types of depression.
Major depression refers to a change in a person’s mood that directly disrupts and affects once normal activities such as sleep, working, appetite and eating habits and loss of interest in sex or hobbies. It is usually characterized by irritability and loss of interest. A person suffering a major depression episode loses the ability or is extremely limited in their ability to function normally. Physical symptoms usually manifest themselves and may include insomnia, weight gain or loss, fatigue, agitation and trouble thinking clearly or concentrating.
People may suffer just one major depressive episode in their lives but multiple episodes are not uncommon. According the National Institute for Mental Health, just under 7% of US adults are affected by major depression. Women suffer major depression almost twice as much as men although it can affect anyone from children to the elderly.
This is basically what it sounds like, depression that occurs during certain parts of the year, usually winter when there is less daylight and more hours of darkness. Known as Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD) most people just think of it as “winter blues”. Long cold winter nights can cause some people to develop this type of disorder. It can be severe and treatment should be sought if a pattern is noticed.
Formerly referred to as manic depression, bipolar disorder is characterized by episodes of severe depression that can alternate with episodes of extreme elation or excited happiness known as mania. The depression suffered by those with bipolar disorder is often called “bipolar depression”. The mood changes with bipolar disorder cycle between the extreme highs of mania and the extreme lows of depression. The cycling can be rapid in some cases but most of the time it happens gradually.
Bipolar depression may include any or all of the common signs of depression. Bipolar mania can manifest itself in the form of hyperactivity, fast talking and extreme elation.
A person suffering from psychotic depression shows the usually symptoms of depression, in addition they also may suffer from hallucinations or delusions. They may hear or see things that aren’t actually real or may have irrational fears or thoughts. A significant break from reality may occur. Around 25% of patients admitted to a hospital for depression suffers from psychotic depression. Unlike people who suffer from schizophrenia, a mental illness that also involves a break from reality, those suffering from psychotic depression realize their delusions or hallucinations are not real. This causes a sense of shame and causes them to try and hide their illness which makes a proper diagnosis that much harder.
This is a less severe type of depression, however it may last for years. People who suffer from dysthymia typically are able to function normally however they may feel unimportant, displeased, sullen or generally disconcerted. This is often referred to as melancholia. Dysthymia sufferers are usually unaware of their condition. General anti-depressants can usually significantly help those with this disorder.
This involves mothers who have an episode of major depression within one month of giving birth. While it is a normal occurrence for new mothers to have what is known as “baby blues” which is less serious, nearly 10% will have a more serious depressive episode and develop postpartum depression. It is often tied to the chemical (hormonal) and psychological adjustments associated with having a baby.
This type of depression may be harder to diagnose since a person with atypical depression may experience few of the common symptoms of depression while also having periods of normal mental balance. Someone with atypical depression may return to a normal mental state with the influence of positive outside factors such as personal success. They can be brought out of a depressive state with a job promotion for example whereas this would have no affect on someone suffering from a typical major depressive episode. Some experts believe this form of depression goes underdiagnosed due to this factor.
As you can see, there are quite a few different types of depression each with their own set of criteria, and in some cases, some extra set of symptoms. You should never self-diagnose a mental illness but rather leave it to a trained mental health professional. If you or a loved one are concerned that you may be suffering from some type of depression you are encouraged to seek the help of a mental health care provider in your area. Reaching out for help is often the hardest step to take, but it also the most important step to take