Most people feel sad and alone from time to time; it is part of the human condition. Humans feel things, and we often react to life’s stressors by feeling sad or withdrawn. But depression is different. Depression is a debilitating mental illness affecting more than 16.1 million American adults, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. There are nine types of depression, but all are marked by extreme sadness and persistent feelings of hopelessness, guilt, exhaustion and/or irritability. People who are depressed lose interest in life and in their daily activities, often wondering if “any of this is worth it.”
Women are almost twice as likely to experience depression, according to a recent report by the Mayo Clinic. It’s not 100 percent sure why depression affects more women than men — it’s likely due to a combination of factors, such as a stronger genetic predisposition to developing depression, hormonal changes, and various sociocultural explanations.
If you’re feeling like you may be suffering from depression, you are not alone. Help is available. Learn about the various types of depression, and then reach out for help.
The Nine Types of Depression
Major Depressive Disorder
When someone experiences persistent and deep feelings of sadness for at least two weeks, then they may have a major depressive disorder (also referred to as “clinical depression”). Common symptoms of this type of depression include a change in appetite (overeating/undereating), change in sleep schedule (insomnia/excessive sleep), excessive crying, inability to concentrate, and of course, intense feelings of sadness.
Persistent Depressive Disorder
Also known as “dysthymia,” persistent depressive disorder is a type of chronic depression that can be difficult to diagnose. Dysthymia symptoms are not as severe as with major depressive disorder. If you have a pervasive, low-level depression that lasts for two years or longer, you may have a persistent depressive disorder.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
People with the seasonal affective disorder experience the classic signs of depression at the same time every year. Most people with SAD feel symptoms come on in the fall and continue through the winter months. Symptoms include fatigue, sadness and social isolation. Light therapy (also known as phototherapy treatment) can help alleviate this type of depression.
This used to be more commonly referred to as “manic-depressive illness.” Someone suffering from bipolar disorder experiences unusual and large shifts in mood and energy levels. They cycle through manic and depressive periods; in a manic episode, they may have lots of energy, experience racing thoughts and engage in risky behaviors such as having reckless sex. In a depressive episode, they will experience the classic symptoms of depression, including feeling sad and hopeless and having little energy for daily activities.
Also known as “major depressive disorder with psychotic features,” this is a form of major depressive disorder accompanied by psychotic symptoms. Someone with psychotic depression experiences the same feelings of sadness and hopelessness found in major depression as well as delusions and hallucinations.
This isn’t the “baby blues” (mood swings, crying spells) that many women have in the two weeks after giving birth — postpartum depression is a more severe, long-lasting form of depression. In addition to experiencing the symptoms of major depression, women with postpartum depression may have trouble bonding with their baby or doubt their ability to care for it. They may also think about harming themselves or their baby.
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
This is a severe form of premenstrual syndrome. All the common PMS symptoms may be present along with extreme sadness, irritability or anger. The symptoms of PMDD almost always resolve with the onset of menstruation.
This is a short-term form of depression that comes about following a traumatic event — loss of a loved one, job loss, divorce, etc. Also referred to as “adjustment disorder,” someone suffering from situational depression will feel sad, afraid or hopeless. As you adjust to your new normal, situational depression usually goes away.
Atypical depression can occur in people with major depression or persistent depression. It’s a subtype of these types of depression marked by several specific symptoms, including increased appetite/weight gain, fatigue, moods that temporarily lift in reaction to good news, extremely sensitivity to rejection and headaches.
Please Reach Out
If you feel you may be suffering from one of the above types of depression, take heart. You don’t have to suffer alone, and recovery is possible. Start by scheduling a time to chat with a professional counselor at ThriveTalk.