5 most common types of depression



There has been an increasing interest in and justifiable concern about people’s mental health.

Depression is used as a catch-all covering any and all mental health issues especially those that manifest in feelings of deep sadness and a dark mood overall.

There are however different types of depression varying in severity, causal factors, and even symptoms. Here are the most common types of depression:

1. Major depressive disorder

This is the classic depression type also referred to as unipolar depression where a dark mood is all-consuming and one loses interest in activities, even the ones that are usually pleasurable. People with major depression experience symptoms most of the day every day and it has little to do with what’s happening around them. Their circumstances can be great, for example, they may have a supportive family, great friends, and a dream job yet still suffer from it. It is a severe form of depression that cause symptoms such as:

  • Despondency, gloom, or grief
  • Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Lack of energy and fatigue
  • Loss of appetite or overeating
  • Unexplained aches and pains
  • Loss of interest in formerly pleasurable activities
  • Lack of concentration, memory problems, and inability to make decisions
  • Feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness
  • Constant worry and anxiety
  • Thoughts of death, self-harm, or suicide

If a person experiences the majority of these symptoms for longer than a two-week period, they will often be diagnosed with MDD.

2. Persistent depressive disorder

Also known as dysthymia, 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. While it is not as intense as major depression, it can still strain relationships and make daily tasks difficult. The severity can vary so that some months are worse than others. Some people also have episodes of major depression before or while they have a persistent depressive disorder. Some symptoms of persistent depression include:

  • Deep sadness or hopelessness
  • Low self-esteem or feelings of inadequacy
  • Lack of interest in things you once enjoyed
  • Appetite changes
  • Changes to sleep patterns or low energy
  • Concentration and memory problems
  • Difficulty functioning at school or work
  • Inability to feel joy, even on happy occasions
  • Social withdrawal

Treatment often involves the use of medication and psychotherapy.

3. Season affective disorder (SAD)

This depression occurs with seasonal changes and is at its peak during winter. It is depression that’s related to certain seasons. It does not stay long and clears up on its own within months. The cause is yet to be pinpointed but it is believed to occur as a result of an imbalance in brain chemicals with the decreased sunlight that occurs mainly in winter.

It may get worse as the season progresses and can lead to suicidal thoughts.

Symptoms include:

  • Social withdrawal
  • Increased need for sleep
  • Weight gain
  • Daily feelings of sadness, hopelessness or unworthiness

4. Bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder was formerly known as manic depression. Someone suffering from bipolar has mood episodes that range from extremes of high energy with an “up” mood to low “depressive” periods. Symptoms can range from mild to extreme. In the low periods, people experience symptoms of major depression including:

  • Diminished interest in activities
  • Fatigue, insomnia, and lethargy
  • Unexplained aches, pains, and psychomotor agitation
  • Hopelessness and loss of self-esteem
  • Irritability and anxiety
  • Indecisions and disorganization

The risk of suicide in bipolar illness is about 15 times greater than in the general population. In extreme cases, psychosis, including hallucinations and delusions occur. Medication can help bring mood swings under control.

5. Situational depression

Also clinically referred to as adjustment disorder, situational depression looks has symptoms similar to major depression in many aspects and can be brought on by specific events or situations such as:

  • The death of a loved one
  • A serious illness or other life-threatening events
  • Going through divorce or child custody issues
  • Being in emotionally or physically abusive relationships
  • Being unemployed or facing serious financial difficulties
  • Facing extensive legal troubles

It can also be referred to as “stress response syndrome”. Psychotherapy can often help with this type of depression that is related to a stressful situation.

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