Lumping all episodes of clinical low mood under the term “depression” is convenient, but it betrays the complexity of the subject. Depression is not a one size fits all or a simple cookie cutter diagnoises. There is more than one type of depression, and knowing which one you have is essential.
In this post, we take a look at the various types of depression out there, and what they mean to you. Check them out below:
Perhaps the most commonly-referenced type of depression is major depression. Doctors regularly diagnose this in patients who feel depressed most days of the week, and who have symptoms that continue for more than two weeks.
People with major depression often lose interest in activities that would normally give them pleasure. They find it hard, for instance, to enjoy their food or laugh with friends.
Those in the midst of major depressive episodes may also struggle with their sleep and feel drowsy throughout the day. Most of the time, the condition makes the person feel agitated, tired, and sluggish, both mentally and physically.
In addition, people with major depression reguklarly feel worthless or lacking, which can lead to thoughts of suicide. Doctors need to formally diagnose the disorder.
Another reason to see a mental health therapist is melancholy. This condition is one in which you feel intensely sad and, again, lose interest in the activities that you would normally enjoy.
People who feel like this often get low moods in the mornings, lose weight, and sleep poorly. Like those with major depression, they may also have suicidal thoughts.
Bipolar disorder is sometimes called “manic depression.” Here, the affected person swings between feelings of elation and misery. When in the low phase, the condition looks similar to conventional major depression.
Doctors usually prescribe drugs for bipolar designed to smooth out symptoms. They may also use off-label anticonvulsants on some patients.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
Seasonal affective disorder (sometimes called SAD) is when major depression occurs during the winter months. Researchers believe that it happens when the body doesn’t get sufficient access to sunlight.
Many people find that they can reverse SAD with 15 to 30 minutes of light exposure per day. You can buy artificial light source boxes that replicate sunlight from a variety of vendors.
People with psychotic depression have regular depression, plus other symptoms common among psychosis patients. These include:
- Paranoia that other people are trying to harm them
- Delusions and false beliefs about themselves and the world
- Seeing or hearing things that aren’t actually there
Doctors usually prescribe a combination of antipsychotics and antidepressants for this condition.
Postpartum depression is a type of depression that emerges in the days and weeks following childbirth. Both men and women can experience the condition, with symptoms similar to those of major depression.
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
Lastly, some women may experience premenstrual dysphoric disorder characterized by low mood and irritability before their period. Many have trouble concentrating or feel overwhelmed. There may also be symptoms of anxiety present.
I am passionate about mental health awareness. You can find resources and encouragement for dealing with depression on this site. This should not be a replacement for mental health care. If you feel depressed, please reach out to someone right away!