11 Types of Depression: What You Should Know

11 Types of Depression: What You Should Know

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There are many different ways that depression can appear. It can be mild or serious, and it can also be chronic or short-term. It can also be caused by certain circumstances such as the birth of a child or the change of seasons.

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Knowing the type of depression someone is suffering from can help healthcare professionals determine the best treatment. For people with depression, knowing the details of their disorder can be helpful.


“Folks seem to be comforted in understanding what’s happening for them,” stated Sarah Noble DO, a psychiatrist working with the Einstein Healthcare Network, Philadelphia. “At least they know why they are feeling the way they do.” Here are some facts about depression.


Major Depressive Disorder

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, around 21 million adults in America had suffered from at least one major depressive episode by 2020. The American Psychiatric Association has published diagnostic criteria that require people to have at least five symptoms that persist for more than two weeks in order to diagnose a major depressive disorder. These symptoms may include:


  • Feelings such as sadness, emptiness, and worthlessness.
  • A loss of interest in engaging in activities or energy.
  • Modifications to your sleep habits
  • Suicide and thoughts of death

Two subtypes of major depression exist: “Atypical depression” (also known as “melancholic depressive disorder) and “melancholic.” People who fall under the former category are more likely to sleep and eat frequently. Dr. Noble stated that these people are highly anxious and emotional. Dr. Noble said that people in this latter group have trouble sleeping and tend to dwell on guilt-ridden thoughts. The melancholic type of depression is more common in older people. Atypical depression tends to be seen more frequently in younger adults.


Most cases can be managed with the help of therapy, medication, and lifestyle modifications per the National Library of Medicine. Individuals with major depressive disorder can start psychotherapy or medication as part of their treatment.


Treatment-Resistant Depression

Sometimes, people with major depression don’t always respond to treatment. Dr. Noble suggested that the cause could be genetic, or even environmental. Their depression is just stubborn. According to researchers from a January 2020 Neuropsychiatric disease and Treatment research, in order to be diagnosed with treatment-resistant depression, a person must have undergone two unsuccessful pharmacotherapy treatments.


A thorough assessment is necessary to diagnose and determine the cause of treatment-resistant depression. Counseling is provided to patients regarding the proper dosage and duration. If the medicine doesn’t work, healthcare providers can switch to a comparable drug or one of a different class. Patients might benefit from taking a second antidepressant of a different class or another type of medicine such as an antipsychotic.


Subsyndromal Depression

A person with depressive symptoms who don’t meet all criteria for the major depressive disorder may be classified as “subsyndromal” (–have another depressive disorder. This is indicated by the Diagnostic, Statistical Manual, and Manual of Mental Disorders Fifth Edition Text Revision (DSM-5T). A person could have fewer than five symptoms or be depressed for less than two weeks.


Dr. Noble said, “Rather than looking at symptoms I often look at function.” Is the patient capable of going to work and taking care of their day-to-day responsibilities? Dr. Noble suggested that even if the person is experiencing difficulties, they might still benefit from treatment.


Persistent Depression Disorder

Persistent depression disorder (PDD), also known by the name dysthymia, can cause a “low, dark or sad mood most days” as well as at least two additional symptoms. This condition is usually diagnosed per MedlinePlus. PDD in teens and children can be diagnosed if symptoms such as irritability and depression last more than one year. Dr. Noble explained that while it can fluctuate in intensity and severity, generally, there is a low-level depression.


This type of depression can only be diagnosed if the person has two of these:


  • Sleep problems (too many or too few)
  • Energy and fatigue
  • Low self-esteem
  • Insatiable appetite or excessive eating
  • Poor concentration, or difficulty making decisions
  • Feelings of despair


PDD usually requires psychotherapy and medication.


Premenstrual Dysphoric disorder

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) affects as many as 10% of women in their childbearing years. This severe form of PMS can cause sadness, depression, anxiety, or irritability as well as other extreme symptoms within a week of a woman having her period.


“It could be really uncomfortable, disable and interfere with women’s day-to-day lives,” said Dorothy Sit MD. She is an associate professor of psychiatry at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.


Scientists think these women may be hypersensitive to hormonal changes in their period. Dr. Sit stated that taking antidepressants (specifically selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)) in the two weeks preceding their period or throughout the month may be very beneficial. Sit stated. Some types of contraception or pain relief may be able to relieve symptoms.


Bipolar Disorder: Depression

Depressive episodes in bipolar disorder can cause wide swings in moods and energy that range from elation or despair. For this type of depression to be diagnosed, the patient must have had at least one episode (a time when there is an energy-filled behavior).


Bipolar disorder typically manifests in young adulthood. While both men and women can be diagnosed with bipolar disorder in equal numbers, there are studies that have shown possible gender differences. For example, while men tend to display more manic behavior, women exhibit depressive symptoms. Bipolar disorder is usually more severe than without treatment. However, it can be treated with mood stabilizers as well as an antipsychotic medication and talk therapy. According to the NAMH, depressive symptoms can be treated with antidepressants.


Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder

Disruptive mood disorder (DMDD) can cause screaming and temper tantrums in children who have trouble regulating their emotions. Another sign is an angry or irritable mood that lasts almost all day. They also have trouble getting along with their peers and at school.


Dr. Noble explained that these children are those who exhibit strong emotional outbursts. “They are just not able to contain their emotions,” Dr. Noble said. So they “act out” and “act on” their emotions.


According to the NIMH DMDD can also be treated with psychotherapy and medications. Parents are trained on how to deal effectively with irritable behaviors in children.


Postpartum (or Perinatal) Depression

While the birth of a child brings great joy, it can also trigger postpartum depression (PPD), which is a condition that affects one-fourth of women and one-eighth of men. Postpartum depression can be triggered by hormone changes, fatigue, and other factors in women. For men, it is more likely to be environmental due to shifting roles and lifestyle changes associated with parenting.


Although postpartum depression is most common within the first year of a child’s birth, it can also occur shortly after that. The intense feelings of sadness, anxiety, or exhaustion can be overwhelming and cause problems in daily living. It can lead to thoughts of harming your baby and yourself.


The “baby blues”, which can be mild and short-lived and cause anxiety and depression, is usually treated with antidepressants and talk therapy. BetterHelp is a highly rated online therapy to assist new mothers in difficult times and offer options for treatment.


Seasonal Affective Disease

Seasonal affective disorders (SAD) or seasonal depression is a recurring form of depression that typically strikes in the fall and winter. SAD patients may also experience mood changes and a lack of energy. People with SAD may overeat or oversleep, be hungry, crave carbs, gain weight, withdraw socially, and have a tendency to overeat, oversleep, and crave carbs.


The NIMH indicates that SAD is more prevalent in women and younger adults. It can also occur in families. SAD is diagnosed in the event of at least two years’ worth of recurring seasonal symptoms. Research suggests that SAD may be caused by an imbalance in the brain’s chemical serotonin. Although the cause is unknown, the research supports the idea. It could also be due to an excess of the sleep hormone, melatonin, and low levels of vitamin D.


SAD can be treated by taking a daily dose of light therapy and occasionally medication.


Psychotic Depression

People suffering from psychotic depression often experience severe depression and psychosis. Psychosis is the state of losing touch with reality. Psychosis can manifest as hallucinations (seeing and hearing things that don’t exist) or delusions (false beliefs). Psychotic depression, another subtype of MDD, is also a possibility.


Dr. Noble had two years to treat one of his patients. She said that for a year she refused to eat anything her father made because she thought it was poisoning. The woman was otherwise clear. It was the psychotic depression she was experiencing that was not fully addressed.


To treat psychotic depression, healthcare providers often prescribe antidepressants along with antipsychotic medication. According to a November 2020 article on Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) was also found to be effective, though it is more effective in non-community settings.


Depression caused by an illness

It can be very difficult to cope with a serious chronic condition like heart disease or cancer, multiple sclerosis, or HIV/AIDS. In a September 2021 BMC Psychiatry Study, researchers found that those with chronic conditions were more likely to be depressed.


Depression may also be caused by inflammation due to diseases. Dr. Noble explained how inflammation can cause brain changes and trigger or worsen depression in some people. Dr. Noble stated that antidepressants could prolong patients’ lives and improve their ability to function. Therapy can also be helpful for many patients with mental or physical illnesses.


An evaluation by a mental health professional is available if you suspect that you or someone you love has one of these types of depressive symptoms. This will help to determine the diagnosis and best treatment.

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