Depression has many different variations and how it goes depends on individuals. All the types of depression have its own symptoms, causes, and effects. Learn about different types of depression and you will be aware how to manage your symptoms and what you should learn about different types of depression in general.
Types of depression
Major depressive disorder
Major depression is a severe mental disorder that deeply affects an individual’s way of life and characterized by the inability to enjoy life fully and be satisfied. The symptoms are permanent, moderate and severe. Left undiagnosed and untreated, the major depressive disorder typically lasts for about six months. Some people experience just a single depressive episode in their lifetime, but more commonly, major depressive disorder is a repeatable disorder. However, there are many options and methods that you can do to cope with depression and prevent its recurrence.
Dysthymia is a type of chronic mild depression. You feel slightly depressed or you may feel good for a short period of time. The symptoms of this depression are not the same as the symptoms of major depressive disorder – they are not so strong – but they last for a long period of time (approximately two years). These chronic symptoms don’t allow you to enjoy life at the full or even to reminisce better times. Some people also suffer major depressive episodes on top of dysthymia, a state known as “double depression”. If you have dysthymia, it may seem that you’ve always been depressed. Or you may suggest that your constant low mood is one of the traits of your character. This type of depression can be treated, even if the symptoms have been unnoticed or untreated for many years.
Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, is characterized by constant mood changes. Episodes of depression and manic episodes are interchangeable, where manic episodes can include aggressive behavior, hyperactivity, rapid speech, and no sleep. Usually, the switch from one mood to the other is sequential, where each manic or depressive episode lasting for at least few weeks. In fact, when depressed, a person with bipolar disorder has the usual symptoms of major depressive disorder. However, treatment for bipolar depression is very different. By the way, antidepressants can make bipolar depression worse.
Cyclothymic disorder is often described as a milder form of bipolar disorder.
The person experiences chronic fluctuating moods over at least two years, involving periods of hypomania (a mild to moderate level of mania) and periods of depressive symptoms, with very short periods (no more than two months) of normality between. The duration of the symptoms are shorter, less severe and not as regular, and therefore, don’t fit the criteria of bipolar disorder or major depression.
Seasonal affective disorder
While the beginning of winter can make many of us experience significant changes in mood, but some people actually develop seasonal depression, also known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD can force you to feel like a totally different person to when you are in the summer time: hopeless, sad, tense, or stressed, with no interest in friends or activities you usually enjoy. During the summer months mild depression or no depression occurs, SAD usually breaks in autumn or winter when the days become shorter and colder and all we have to do is to wait for the brighter days of spring or early summer. During the winter time, we all experience the lack of the Sun.
This is the term used to describe a severe form of depression where many of the physical symptoms of depression occur. One of the major changes in behavior is that the person can be observed to move or speak more slowly. The person is also more likely to have a depressed mood that is characterized by complete loss of pleasure and interest in everything, or almost everything.
Antenatal and postnatal depression
Women are at a high risk of depression during pregnancy (known as the antenatal or prenatal period) and in the year following childbirth (known as the postnatal period). “Perinatal” is another term which describes the period covered by pregnancy and the first year after the baby’s birth.
The causes of depression at this time can be complicated and are often the result of a combination of different factors. In the days immediately following birth, many women feel the “baby blues” which is a common condition related to hormonal changes, affecting up to 80% of women. The “baby blues”, or general stress associated with pregnancy and/or a new baby, are general experiences but are totally different from depression. Depression is longer lasting and can affect not only the mother’s wellbeing but her relationship with her baby, the child’s development, the mother’s relationship with her partner and with other members of the family.
Read more: Postpartum depression. What is it?
Unfortunately, approximately 10% of women are depressed during pregnancy. In fact, it increases to 16% in the first three months after having a baby.