The Many Types of Depression
Everybody feels sad once in a while: This is a normal emotion and a necessary part of life. However, what is not normal is when these feelings of sadness affect the person’s ability to function in everyday life. When this happens, the person is likely experiencing depression. Contrary to what some people believe, depression is an actual disease. It is not simply a state of emotions. It is a proven chemical imbalance in the brain, and it is often genetic (but not always).
Along with the desire to do nothing and the blues that often accompany depression, there are some other common symptoms that most people experiencing the disease will have. These include: frequent pessimism, extreme irritability, loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities, aches and pains (including headaches), fatigue, lack of concentration, and thoughts of suicide. However, it is important to note that there are many different types of depression, and each of these different depression types shows its face in a unique way. Here is a brief rundown of the varying types of depression.
This is the most common and most severe of the different depression types. People who have clinical depression are greatly affected by the disease. They are not able to work, eat, or sleep like they are supposed to. Major depression is truly disabling and is a long-term condition. Most people who have clinical depression will have it reoccur throughout their lives. According to WebMD, in order to be diagnosed with major depression, a person must be experiencing depression symptoms daily for at least two weeks in a row. Additionally, there cannot be a loss of a loved one in the previous two months, and the depressed feelings cannot be a result of drug abuse or medication usage. While the symptoms of depression vary from person to person, in order to be diagnosed with clinical depression, individuals have to at least show a loss of interest in their favorite activities or have a severely depressed mood.
When people are diagnosed with mild depression, they display a lot of the same symptoms that are experienced during clinical depression, but they are not as severe. Usually, someone with minor depression is still able to at least go to work and interact with others, but the feelings of sadness and lack of interest have been felt for at least two weeks. However, mild depression is still concerning because it can easily lead to major depression.
As far as the types of depression go, chronic depression (otherwise known as dysthymia) is considered just as common as clinical depression. Many of the symptoms are the same between the two, except that chronic depression shows the effects in a less severe way. Most individuals with chronic depression are typically not disabled by the disease. In order to be diagnosed as chronic depression, the depressive symptoms have to be present for at least two years.
With regular depression, individuals often experience a decrease in appetite and find it hard to sleep. However, with atypical depression, people tend to overeat and sleep too much. Another notable trait of atypical depression is that instead of feeling sad all of the time, people tend to fluctuate their moods according to what they are experiencing in life. It is important to note that just because the symptoms are unlike that of other types of depression, they are just as dangerous to the person experiencing them.
Just as the name implies, seasonal affective disorder, or seasonal depression, takes place during one part of the year. Often, individuals will experience seasonal affective disorder during the fall and winter seasons, and the symptoms fade away as spring and summer occur. The condition is usually due to the lack of natural sunlight found in the colder months and can sometimes be treated effectively with light therapy. However, some people with seasonal affective disorder will experience their symptoms during the warm months.
Of all of the different depression types, psychotic depression is perhaps the most frightening. People suffering from psychotic depression will experience all of the traditional depression symptoms, but they will also have hallucinations, delusional thoughts, or other behaviors signifying psychosis.
After giving birth, women experience all kinds of emotions as their hormones try to balance out and they get accustomed to taking care of a newborn. While many women experience some feelings of sadness after giving birth, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) reports that 10-15 percent of women get postpartum depression. Women with postpartum depression experience the same things as people with major depression, but the signifying factor is that the diagnosis takes place within one month of giving birth. This type of depression is especially serious since the women who have it are responsible for caring for their baby.
While most people with depression only experience the feelings of sadness, individuals with bipolar disorder will also have episodes of mania, in which they feel extreme natural highs. There are two different types of bipolar disorder: bipolar 1 and bipolar 2. With bipolar 1, people only have to experience one episode of mania and they may or may not experience the depression side of the disorder. However, with bipolar 2, someone will have at least one episode of major depression and one mild case of mania. That being said, many people with bipolar disorder feel continuing waves between depression and mania.
While not technically one of the types of depression, anxiety disorder often goes hand in hand with depression and is worth mentioning. The most common type of anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) occurs after a petrifying event, like a brutal accident, military combat, or a natural disaster. In fact, the NIMH has shown that 40% of people with PTSD also experience one of the types of depression. When both conditions are experienced congruently, the symptoms of each are magnified.