7 Common Types of Depression

Causes are as varied as the symptoms and treatment

When people think about depression, they often divide it into one of two things—either clinical depression which requires treatment or "regular" depression that pretty much anyone can go through. As a condition, depression can be a difficult concept to grasp since we refer to it as both the symptom of a condition and a condition itself.

From a medical standpoint, depression is defined​ as a mood disorder which causes a persistent feeling of sadness and the often profound loss of interest in things that usually bring you pleasure. It affects how you feel, think, and behave and can interfere with your ability to function and carry on with daily life.

There are many different causes of depression, some of which we don't fully understand. Seven of the more common types include the following.

1

Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)

Depressed man standing alone on a jetty on a foggy autumn day
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When people use the term clinical depression, they are generally referring to major depressive disorder (MDD). Major depressive disorder is a mood disorder characterized by a number of key features:

  • Depressed mood
  • Lack of interest in activities normally enjoyed
  • Changes in weight
  • Changes in sleep
  • Fatigue
  • Feelings of worthlessness and guilt
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Thoughts of death and suicide

If a person experiences the majority of these symptoms for longer than a two-week period, they will often be diagnosed with MDD.

2

Persistent Depressive Disorder

Dysthymia, now known as persistent depressive disorder, refers to a type of chronic depression present for more days than not for at least two years. It can be mild, moderate, or severe.

3

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder characterized by periods of abnormally elevated mood known as mania. These periods of ​A major can be mild (hypomania) or they can be so extreme as to cause marked impairment with a person's life, require hospitalization, or affect a person's sense of reality. The vast majority of those with bipolar illness also have episodes of major depression.

In addition to depressed mood and markedly diminished interest in activities, people with bipolar depression often have a range of physical and emotional symptoms which may include:

  • Fatigue, insomnia, and lethargy
  • Unexplained aches, pains, and psychomotor agitation
  • Hopelessness and loss of self-esteem
  • Irritability and anxiety
  • Indecision and disorganization

The risk of suicide in bipolar illness is 15 times greater than in the general population. Psychosis (including hallucinations and delusions) can also occur in more extreme cases.

4

Postpartum Depression

grandparents should look for signs of postpartum depression
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Pregnancy can bring about significant hormonal shifts that can often affect a woman's moods. Depression can have its onset during pregnancy or following the birth of a child.  

Postpartum depression is more than that just the "baby blues." It can range from a persistent lethargy and sadness that requires medical treatment all the way up to postpartum psychosis, a condition in which the mood episode is accompanied by confusion, hallucinations or delusions. 

5

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)

Among the most common symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) are irritability, fatigue, anxiety, moodiness, bloating, increased appetite, food cravings, aches, and breast tenderness.

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) produces similar symptoms, but those related to mood are more pronounced. They may include:

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Feeling sad, hopeless, or self-critical
  • Severe feelings of stress or anxiety
  • Mood swings, often with bouts of crying
  • Irritability
  • Inability to concentrate 
  • Food cravings or binging

Hormonal treatments may A major in addition to antidepressants and lifestyle changes.

6

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Depressed woman sitting near the window
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If you experience depression, sleepiness, and weight gain during the winter months but feel perfectly fine in spring, you may have a condition known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), currently called major depressive disorder, with seasonal pattern. 

SAD is believed to be triggered by a disturbance in the normal circadian rhythm of the body. Light entering through the eyes influences this rhythm, and any seasonal variation in night/day pattern can cause a disruption leading to depression.

SAD is more common in far northern or far southern regions of the planet and can often be treated with light therapy to offset the seasonal loss the daylight.

7

Atypical Depression

Do you experience signs of depression (such as overeating, sleeping too much, or extreme sensitivity to rejection) but find yourself suddenly perking up in face of a positive event?

Based on these symptoms, you may be diagnosed with atypical depression, a type of depression which does not follow what was thought to be the "typical" presentation of the disorder. Atypical depression is characterized by a specific set of symptoms related to:

  • Excessive eating or weight gain
  • Excessive sleep
  • Fatigue, weakness, and feeling "weighed down"
  • Intense sensitivity to rejection
  • Strongly reactive moods

It is actually more common than the name might imply. Unlike other forms of depression, people with atypical depression respond better to a type of antidepressant known as a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAO).

 

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View Article Sources
  • American Psychiatric Association. (2013) Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th edition). Washington, D.C.: APA.