There's More Than One Type of Depression
By: Maddy Rambeau
*Keep in mind that I am not a doctor, if you feel as if you may be suffering from a depressive disorder please seek professional help.*
Depression is the chronic, incurable illness that claims responsibility for two-thirds of the 30,000 suicides that occur in the United States annually. Depression’s risks run high considering its fatality toll is much higher than the death rate for chronic liver disease, Alzheimer’s, homicide, and arteriosclerosis. Depression is something that we should all care about enough to spread awareness to the best of our ability, as many people care about it. A vast majority of people are very misinformed when it comes to understanding depression, and many people fail to realize that depression is an umbrella term (similar to how the word “gay” is an umbrella term for the LGBTQA+ community).
Depression actually has 9 “types” that fall under its looming category:
1. Major Depressive Disorder
Major depressive disorder is the leading cause of disability in the United States for ages 15 through 44. Its impact is tremendous. Some symptoms of major depressive disorder include losing interest in activities you once enjoyed, changes in weight and eating habits, sleep disturbances, chronic fatigue, feelings of worthlessness and deep sadness, trouble concentrating, struggling to make decisions and take care of yourself, and suicidal thoughts. Major depressive disorder is a chronic illness, meaning that symptoms must be present for a period of about 2 weeks for it to be diagnosed. Therapy, medication, and kinds of brain stimulation can be used as management options for treatment.
2. Dysthymic Depression
Dysthymia is known as the “long lasting” type of depression. A person can suffer from dysthymia for long periods of time such years and even decades. It can also be called persistent depressive disorder. Dysthymia has often been described as having less severity, but more endurance than major depressive disorder. This can be explained as being just a little bit depressed, but for a long time. Symptoms include changes in appetite, sleep disturbances, apathy, chronic fatigue, struggling with self-esteem, trouble concentrating, struggling to make decisions, and chronic feelings of hopelessness. Medication and therapy are forms of treatment that can be helpful in managing dysthymic depression.
3. Manic Depression
Manic depression is most commonly known as Bipolar Disorder. It consists of debilitating, severe mood episodes that “swing” from a high point (mania) to a low point (depression). When a person is in a depressive state, they exhibit the symptoms of major depressive disorder. When a person is in mania, they experience the following symptoms: euphoria, irritability, increased energy and lessened need for sleep, racing thoughts, changes in speech, high self-esteem, impulsivity that reflects in their actions, recklessness in pursuit of instant gratification (excessive shopping or spending of money, high sex drive and promiscuity, dangerous driving, substance abuse). Mania and depression are coupled together in bipolar disorder. A person will switch from one mood to the next, often because of a “trigger” of some sort. Medication and therapy can be used to manage the moods of bipolar disorder.
4. Seasonal Affective Disorder
Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression that remains between limitations built by the weather. A person with Seasonal Affective Disorder will experience symptoms of major depressive disorder only during the winter months. This is due to the shorter days and less sunlight that comes along with winter time. It can be treated with medication and even light therapy.
5. Psychotic Depression
Psychotic depression is a “mixture” of major depressive disorder and psychosis (another mental illness). A person with psychotic depression will have the symptoms of major depressive disorder, but will also present with psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations, delusional thinking, and extreme paranoia. Medications including antidepressants and antipsychotics can be used for treatment.
6. Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression occurs in the weeks or months after a woman gives birth to their child. The symptoms of postpartum depression are similar to major depressive disorder. It is a different “type” of depression due to its significant relation to the birth of a child. Therapy and medication are helpful in treating postpartum depression.
7. Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder is a “type” of depression that occurs when a woman starts her period. While some changes in mood are common when a woman gets her period, extreme depressive symptoms may be a sign of premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Symptoms are similar to major depressive disorder but are limited to the time a woman starts her period. Premenstrual dysphoric disorder can be treated with antidepressants or even birth control.
8. Situational Depression
Situational depression is commonly known as the stress response syndrome. It presents itself when a person is going through a particularly stressful time. It is symptoms of major depressive disorder that occur nearly as a result of a stressful incident (a death of a loved one, job struggles, financial instability, problems in relationships, etc..). Therapy can be used to manage situational depression.
9. Atypical Depression
Atypical depression is much different than the “typical” depressive disorders in that it can be “broken up” by a positive event. Symptoms of depression can be temporarily gone because something good happened, only to return when the moment passes. The depressive symptoms aren’t persistent, they seem to “let up” on happy occasions. Different medications can be used as treatment for atypical depression.
As always, make sure to seek out help from a doctor if you suspect that you may be suffering from any of the depressive disorders mentioned above. It is helpful to educate others on the many different types of depression. Depression is not one illness. So many people are in the dark when it comes to understanding the complexity of depression. Share this article to enlighten those about the various depressive disorders.