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.
Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)
When people use the term clinical depression, they are generally referring to major depressive disorder (MDD).1 Major depressive disorder is a mood disorder characterized by a number of key features:
Lack of interest in activities normally enjoyed
Changes in weight
Changes in sleep
Feelings of worthlessness and guilt
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.
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.
Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder characterized by periods of abnormally elevated mood known as mania. These periods 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 up to 20 to 30 times greater than in the general population. Psychosis (including hallucinations and delusions) can also occur in more extreme cases.
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.
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:
Feeling sad, hopeless, or self-critical
Severe feelings of stress or anxiety
Mood swings, often with bouts of crying
Inability to concentrate
Food cravings or binging
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
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.
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
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).