The Different Types Of Depression

“I think you ought to know I’m feeling very depressed.” —Marvin the Paranoid Android, in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

In A Nutshell

Major depression occurs when a person experiences depression so severe that it interferes with their daily life, while dysthymia is a mild form of this. Persistent depression lasts for several years. There are also forms of depression that come coupled with other symptoms. For example, psychotic depression comes along with a break from reality, postpartum depression happens to up to 15 percent of new mothers, and seasonal affective disorder happens when the lack of sunlight and bleary weather impact a person’s mood. Bipolar disorder is an extreme form of depression that alternates with manic periods.

The Whole Bushel

Depression is much more than feeling sad: It’s an illness that interferes with a good part of your daily life and won’t necessarily go away on its own. The official term is “clinical depression,” and it’s more than just a temporary condition that will get better over time. In fact, in a perpetual vicious cycle, one of the common symptoms of all the types of depression is a lack of motivation to get help.

Major depression is one of the most common types of depression. It is a perpetual sadness that lasts all day and all night, and interferes with a person’s daily activities. Activities that were once pleasurable aren’t any more. There are a variety of other symptoms, which may include an empty feeling, no longer wanting to participate in those previously enjoyed activities, a lack of motivation, sleeplessness or sleeping too much, headaches and indigestion, fatigue, and feelings of hopelessness or irritability. Thoughts of death and suicide can also manifest in extremely severe cases.

Most people suffer through episodes of major depression at least once in their lifetime. While some of the symptoms may or may not be present, there must be either a depressed feeling of mood or a loss of interest in daily activities to be considered major depression.

Dysthymia, or chronic depression, is a milder form of major depression. Symptoms are there, but the person is still capable of functioning and going about their daily duties, even if their depression forces them to do it half-heartedly.

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Persistent depressive disorder is the clinical name for an episode of depression lasts for at least two years. The symptoms can fluctuate between the severity of major depression and the minor functionality of chronic depression, but in order for this to be diagnosed there has to be some sort of depressive state that has existed for those two years.

There are also other kinds of depression that exist under certain circumstances or that are coupled with other symptoms not found in major or chronic depression.

Psychotic depression is when there are other symptoms such as some sort of break from reality, the manifestation of hallucination, or delusions along with the depression.

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, occurs when the depression is present alongside periods of extreme highs.

Postpartum depression is a form that is specific to new mothers. After giving birth, a woman is subjected to severe hormonal and physical changes. Along with the stress of learning how to deal with this new addition to the family, the result can be this form of depression. It’s estimated that as many as 15 percent of new mothers experience some degree of this.

And seasonal affective disorder is a seasonal type of depression brought on by a lack of sunlight, although there is a version of the disorder that happens during the long days of the summer months instead of the long nights of the winter. Symptoms include those common to other types of depression, although this type is more often characterized by weight gain instead of weight loss, as with other types.

Depression can be brought on by a number of factors, from daily stress to biological factors like a chemical imbalance in the brain. Certain personality traits, such as a tendency to worry or view the world with a pessimistic attitude, can make someone more susceptible to depression.

Show Me The Proof

University Health Services at Berkeley: Clinical depression
National Institute of Mental Health: What is depression?
US National Library of Medicine: Seasonal affective disorder