Recognizing the Four Types of Depression

November 11, 2020

Everyone feels down every now and then, but the symptoms experienced by people who are suffering from depression are much more severe than ocasional sadness. 

Depression can have serious effects on your quality of life, and your capacity to work and function in your day to day. Even if you are able to function with your depression, it has a serious impact on how you live your life and interact with others. 

Here’s what you need to know about recognizing the various types of depression and finding a treatment that works well for you. 

What is Depression?

Depression, known as major depressive disorder or clinical depression, is a very serious mood disorder that is quite common in the United States. It is a whole-body disorder that affects every aspect of your life.

Severe symptoms can make it impossible for you to function in everyday life, while less severe symptoms can severely impact your quality of life even though you still manage to go to school or work. Everybody goes through sad times, especially when negative life events occur. However, depression lasts for at least two weeks, and the sad times don’t seem to subside. 

Some types of depression are more general and may be diagnosed and treated simply as depression. However, there are also some important types within depression that are very relevant when diagnosing and treating this condition.

These specifications are: persistent depressive disorder, psychotic depression, seasonal affective disorder, and postpartum depression. There is also a type of depression known as atypical depression that is not well-defined, but presents with different types of symptoms than typical depression.

Four Types of Depression

These are the four main types of specific depression most likely to affect Americans. Sometimes major depressive episodes are associated with these types of depression, and sometimes not. They generally present with the typical symptoms of depression but have their own unique symptoms as well.

Persistent Depressive Disorder

This is a long-lasting depression, as indicated by the name. It is also known as dysthymia. This is a depressed mood that lasts at least two years for adults and one year for children and adolescents. It is marked by less severe symptoms than other types of depression, and it may subside briefly within a 1 or 2 year period, and still be classified as persistent depressive disorder.

Many individuals suffer instances of major depression along with persistent depressive disorder. Because it is so long-lasting and because symptoms are not as severe, many people interpret this depression as a part of their personality. This is especially likely for children or people who experience the onset of the disorder after a trauma or loss.

Postpartum Depression

It is common for women to experience the “baby blues” after they have given birth, which generally consists of a relatively mild, general feeling of anxiety and depression, that lasts for a week or two after a baby is born. 

However, postpartum depression is much more severe and less common. 

Women who experience postpartum depression have complete major depression after the baby is born. They have feelings of terrible sadness, extreme anxiety, and overwhelming exhaustion that make it difficult for them to not only care for their babies but even care for themselves.

Postpartum depression may last for up to a year after the baby is delivered and occasionally requires hospitalization. It can affect as many as one in seven women who give birth. 

Psychotic Depression

Psychotic depression occurs when an individual experiences both severe depression and psychotic hallucinations or delusions. They may have untrue beliefs that can’t be argued away or they may see things that aren’t there. 

There is usually a theme to the symptoms, such as an illness or guilt. It can sometimes be difficult to diagnose symptoms of depression since the psychotic symptoms may distract from the depressive symptoms. However, these patients usually display classic depressive symptoms as well as psychotic delusions or hallucinations.

Seasonal Affective Disorder 

This depression comes on during the winter months, generally when there is less natural sunlight and less time is spent outdoors. It typically goes away in the spring and the summer. This can make it very difficult to diagnose as a real form of depression, but it has very important life-affecting symptoms. 

These symptoms include withdrawing from social activities, sleeping more, and gaining weight. There may be some association between seasonal affective disorder and the tendency to show atypical depression symptoms.

Atypical Depression

Atypical depression has different symptoms and treatment than the four main types of depression. These differences may make it more difficult for some people to recognize it as depression in themselves or others. 

People who experience atypical depression may have their depression lifted for brief periods, which may lead them to think that they are not really depressed since they can experience happiness. Reduction in the symptoms is usually associated with seeing a loved one or another positive event.

They may have increased appetite and weight gain, whereas classic depression usually shows a reduction of appetite accompanied by weight loss. They also have a very distinct leaden feeling, meaning they feel a paralyzing heaviness in their arms and legs. 

The condition is also often marked by a severe sensitivity to rejection, especially in romantic and work-related scenarios. 

What are Lesser-known Types of Depression?

Here are some other types of depression that are less common but do exist. 

  • Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder. This disorder is diagnosed only in children or adolescents and is more associated with irritability than classic symptoms of depression.
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder. This depressive disorder only affects women and is timed according to the menstrual cycle.
  • Bipolar disorder. This is its own disorder, but during the “low” phases, symptoms are generally very similar to depression. 

Can You Have Depression Without Realizing It?

Many people experience symptoms of depression, sometimes very severe symptoms, without realizing that what they are experiencing is depression. 

Many people tend to think about depression as actively crying all the time or having self-destructive thoughts. While this might occur, these aren’t necessarily the symptoms of depression that will occur in you or your loved one. 

It is extremely important to be well-versed in all of the signs and symptoms of depression so that you will be better able to recognize depression in yourself or in a loved one and get the help that you need. 

Symptoms of Depression

It is essential to understand the symptoms of depression and other mood disorders so that you can seek out help for it when you see it:

  • Aggression, hostility, or irritability without any clear cause
  • Ongoing sadness, anxiety, or a sense of being empty
  • Dramatic changes in weight or appetite
  • Changes in sleep patterns, either sleeping more or less
  • Trouble concentrating or a feeling of being fuzzy and unable to do things that you once did easily

You may have experienced some of these feelings before, but they probably were not as severe or persistent as the symptoms you experience when you are depressed. These symptoms often cause problems in your relationships with friends and family, or interfere with your ability to do your work or hobbies. 

Whatever the symptoms of depression that you’re experiencing, many people can find improvement with the right depression medication.

Who Experiences Depression? 

Anyone can go through a hard time and feel sad, anxious, and removed from the people around them. However, people who experience depression have much more severe symptoms that do not let up over time. 

Anyone can experience depression, although some people may be more likely to experience certain types than others. 

Men are less likely to be diagnosed with a depressive mood disorder than women, although this may have more to do with the tendency of men to report mood disorders less frequently than women.

The way that depression shows can vary by age and gender as well. Men may be more likely to be irritable or excessively tired, whereas women often have more classic signs like sadness and crying. In young children, depression shows as an aversion to school, anxiety about being separated from their parents, and unfounded concerns about their parents dying. 

Because depression manifests so differently in different people, people may have a very hard time recognizing it in themselves or others, especially when it does not present in a way that they recognize as classic depression. 

Getting Your Depression Diagnosed and Treated

If you or somebody you love is experiencing depression of any kind, it is very important that you seek out help. Depression can have serious negative consequences on an individual’s quality of life. Furthermore, when left untreated, depression can be very dangerous.

Don’t let depression take over you or your loved one’s life–mental health care is easier to attain than you may think. 

YANA is an online mental health clinic that offers easily accessible, affordable, expert mental health care. In no time at all, you can get registered, have your first consultation with a doctor picked specifically for you, and get started on a course of treatment to help you feel healthier and happier. Prescription depression medications can even get discreetly shipped right to your door. Explore why YANA is different from traditional mental health options–it’s only a few clicks away to take the right step toward better mental health. 

Sources:

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml

https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/six-common-depression-types

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/recognizing-and-getting-help-for-mood-disorders

https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Mental-Health-Conditions/Depression

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/atypical-depression/symptoms-causes/syc-20369747

https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/depression