When many people hear the word “depression,” they think about it 2 ways: “regular “depression and “clinical” depression. The truth is that these are not terms used by mental health professionals, even though it is a common way of discussing depression. The distinction seems to indicate that for some people, their depression is quite disabling and pervasive, thus making it a “clinical” issue. However, there are many types of depression. While sadness is a natural part of the human experience, it is typically short-lived. However, when someone experiences persistent and intense sadness for long periods of time, they may have clinical depression.
In this blog, we are going to touch on 7 different types of depression.
What Is Depression?
Before we explore the different types of depression, let’s define depression.
According to Psychiatry.org, depression is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act.
The good news is, it is very treatable. Let’s explore each of the major types of depression:
Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)
When the term “clinical depression” is used, people are generally referring to Major Depressive Disorder. Major Depressive Disorder is a very serious condition that impacts many areas of your life. Your mood and behavior, as well as appetite and sleep may be affected with MDD. It is common for people with MDD to lose interest in activities they once loved and sometimes have trouble with everyday activities. It can feel like a heavy weight is on your back when performing normal activities, making it difficult to perform. Occasionally, people with Major Depressive Disorder may feel like life is not worth living anymore.
Some people with MDD never seek treatment. These people either are unaware that they have MDD or think this is how everyone feels. However, many people do seek treatment for MDD and get better. Common treatments include medication and psychotherapy, which can effectively help a person with MDD. For most people, MDD can be treated on an outpatient basis and it responds well to cognitive-behavioral therapy.
Learn more about major depressive disorder treatment
The second type of depression is bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic-depressive illness, is a mood disorder that causes shifts in a persons’ mood, activity levels, energy, and the ability to perform every tasks. A person with Bipolar Disorder typically has moments of extreme “up” behavior, known as manic behaviors, and extreme “down” hopeless behavior, known as depressive episodes. Within the diagnosis of Bipolar, there are subtypes.
Bipolar I: This is the most severe form of the disorder, with clear episodes of mania and depression.
Bipolar II: More mild episodes of mania, called hypomania alternating with periods of either depression or dysthymia.
Bipolar III (Cyclothymia): Brief periods of hypomania with brief periods of depression that are not as severe as those seen in either Bipolar I or MDD.
Mixed Episodes: this is a specifier for any of these subtypes of Bipolar. In some individuals, they demonstrate symptoms of depression and mania at the same time. This often presents as being highly agitated, decreased need for sleep and at the same time, feeling down, hopeless, or irritable.
Rapid Cycling: this is another specifier for any of these subtypes of Bipolar. In some cases, the changes in mood do not last the amount of time needed to make a formal diagnosis but otherwise, all of the symptoms are there. While there is some debate about this feature of mood disorders, it is more and more common to hear this term used in the field since it is so common. If you have intense mood symptoms that could be classified as depression and/or mania but they only last a day or 2, you may be a rapid cycler. This can be more difficult to treat so it is important to keep notes about your symptoms so that you can be properly treated.
Learn more about bipolar disorder treatment
Persistent Depressive Disorder
Another type of depression is Persistent Depressive Disorder, or dysthymia. This type of depression refers to chronic depression more days than not for at least two years. This chronic depression can be mild, moderate, or severe.
People with Persistent Depressive Disorder may experience times of not feeling depressed, but typically, these feelings only last a few months or less. Some common symptoms include: Feeling sad, irritability, feeling guilty, loss of pleasure, loss of interest, sleeping too much, difficulty sleeping, feeling there is no hope, lack of energy, and trouble concentrating.
Persisent Depressive Disorder, while not as common as Major Depressive Disorder, still affects 1.5% of adults in the United States according to The National Institute of Mental Health.
The Fourth type of depression on our list is Postpartum Depression. Postpartum Depression occurs in women after a pregnancy. It is fairly common for women to have mood changes, anxiety, and other symptoms after delivering a child, typically up to about 2 weeks after. However, Postpartum Depression is much more severe and longer lasting.
Postpartum Depression symptoms often include a persistent feeling of being sad, helpless, hopeless, thoughts of suicide, thoughts of hurting your child, and other symptoms. On the extreme end of Postpartum Depression, also known as postpartum psychosis, a person may experience these symptoms accompanied by confusion, delusions, or hallucinations. In cases of postpartum psychosis, hospitalization may be required and other caregivers may need to step in to help with the care of the chold.
If Postpartum Depression is not treated, symptoms can last up to one year. Fortunately, there is hope as Postpartum Depression is treatable, often with a short course of medication and therapy.
Learn more about postpartum depression treatment
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
According to WebMD, doctors think as many as ¾ of menstruating women have some signs of PMS. But Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) is different. Like PMS, it causes emotional physical symptoms. Unlike PMS, women with PMDD find their symptoms debilitating, which often interferes with their daily activities such as school, work, and relationships. PMDD is more than just feeling “moody” before your period. It involves a brief, intense, deterioration of your mood that feels totally out of your control.
Women with PMDD can feel helpless. But there is hope, treatment including medication and therapy can be administered to help provide relief.
Learn more about premenstrual dysphoric disorder treatment
Seasonal Affective Disorder
Seasonal Affective Disorder, also referred to as SAD, is a type of depression that changes during the seasons. For those afflicted with SAD, typically, their symptoms start and end around the same time each year. Many people with SAD are affected in in the fall and continue through the winter months.
Often with Seasonal Affective Disorder, people feel moody and have low energy. Treatments for SAD include medications, light therapy, and psychotherapy.
If you experience these symptoms around the same time each year, don’t dismiss them as “The Winter Blues.” Talk with a licensed psychologist.
The final type of depression in our post is Atypical Depression. Atypical Depression shares a lot of features found in Major Depressive Disorder but includes several very specific symptoms. These symptoms include increased weight gain or appetite, problems sleeping or sleeping too much, and feelings of fatigue and/or weakness. In addition, a person with Atypical Depression will feel extremely sensitive to rejection. People with Atypical Depression will show improvement in mood in response to positive events in a way that those with Major Depression or Persistent Depressive Disorder don’t. They also tend to have other co-morbid diagnoses, such as Borderline Personality Disorder or Anxiety Disorders.
If you think you may have Atypical Depression, you can get relief by getting psychotherapy and/or medication.
Which Depression Do I Have?
In this blog, we’ve covered 7 types of depression. If you see any commonalities with any of the above types of depression, we recommend that you speak with a trained medical professional so that they can properly diagnose you and create a treatment plan for you.
Get Depression Treatment in Miami, FL
Depression can be a scary, debilitating time to go through for anyone. But there is hope!
Contact us today to learn how we might be able to help you close this chapter.
I’m Dr. Amy Boyers, a Clinical Psychologist in Miami who specializes in eating disorder treatment (all types including anorexia treatment, bulimia treatment, and binge eating treatment) and other long term conditions, including addictions, bipolar, and OCD. I offer personalized and sophisticated eating disorder treatment services, individual and family psychotherapy, family member support and education, in-home meal support, cognitive behavioral therapy, anxiety treatment, depression treatment, and much more.
I look forward to helping you obtain a brighter tomorrow.