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.

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

  • Rijul Ballal

    Depression is one of the worst things to suffer through,as both the person suffering and the people around him hold several misconceptions…

    • Lisa 39

      I suffered from persistent depresive disorder for at least ten years, then i got rid of 200lbs of mean ugly dead weight, i’m much better now 🙂

      • Rijul Ballal

        that’s quite nice to hear, I used to have depression for awhile too, not for that long but then again I’m only 17..

        • Lisa 39

          I’m glad it didn’t last long for you, depression can be very debilitating, my mom suffers from it, sometimes when its bad she takes pills, they just make her sleep alot so i don’t think that pills are a great solution, did something trigger your depression? Loss of a loved one? You don’t have to share if you don’t want to 🙂

          • Rijul Ballal

            Me? Well it was never any particular event, I’ve been distant and aloof for most my life, and growing up in a communal,backward poverty stricken town,under harsh teachers and hateful parents had made me resentful and isolated..My whole outlook on life and philosophy also made me wonder if life was worth living.The only reason I’m still around is because I seem to be quite resistant to most poisons and nitrogen… I was quite suicidal and barely did anything up till last year, It might seem silly but it was girl that got me to change, well my desire to know the girl more accurately.Improving my grades was a breeze and Luckily for me it turned out we had everything from book,to TV shows,to philosophy to the nicknames we liked to call people in common.Started hanging out with her friends,made new ones,started to talk to people, really turned things around.My whole life became this mellow playground full of wonderful people.
            But the thing is this incredible and wondrous friend of mine,who in two months had me head over heels , isn’t my friends any more,There is no real reason why,just the horrid fact that she probably will never be friends with me again.. it make me feel terrible but I can’t find it in myself to hold it against her.Human endeavor eh? And you what caused your depression?

          • Lisa 39

            Wow, i can see where the depression came from, time for some mom wisdom for you about your friend, people come and go in life, they either give you something or take something, sometimes both, she gave you a new and better outlook and opened your eyes to new things, she brought you up and out of a very bad place, that’s a beautiful thing when someone can open your mind and heart like that, that’s why you don’t hold not being friends anymore against her, but remember, everyone you meet, you also give and/or take from them also, always do your best to give your best, we are not judged by how much we love others, but by how much we are loved.

            Side note, something i tell everyone about females. Women are crazy, all of them, there’s different levels of crazy, you want to avoid the high maintenance girls because they’re the craziest, find girls who are minimally crazy and you’ll be ok, 🙂

            That 200lbs of dead weight was the cause of my depression, once i divorced him i was fine 😮

          • Rijul Ballal

            Thank you for that. But to lose a friend.. ah such pain should cannot be forgotten,sometime I look back and long to be able to talk her the simple knowledge that she would be there,if only she hadn’t been so cruel.It must have been quite difficult to plow through 10 years with a person who caused you pain.

          • Lisa 39

            Eventually the pain won’t be so bad, i promise, if you hold on tightly to the good things you have, the bad things just won’t be as big and important, i’m sorry that she was cruel, let that be your lesson that being cruel is hurtful, i’m not a cruel person and i have no regrets about how i treat people, actually i was with him for 26 years, i was only depressed for the last ten, he just kept getting worse so i divorced him, it was difficult to be married to him.

          • Rijul Ballal

            Thanks,I have to go sleep now, bye.

          • Nathaniel A.

            Oh. I thought you went through some extreme weight-loss program or something…

          • Lisa 39

            Nathaniel, you just literally made me laugh out loud, thank you! Dead weight is all about the ex, but i did lose 90lbs 10 years ago, yay! Being pregnant and/or nursing for 13 years isn’t good for weight, i just made myself lol

          • lbatfish

            Damn . . . that would have made her almost as heavy as me!

      • 1DireWolf

        Your husband?

        • Lisa 39

          Ex husband, yup, ex ex ex, best thing i ever did for the kids and myself, is my excitement showing?

  • Mindy McIndy

    I have severe depression from bipolar disorder and PTSD. I’ve been in therapy since I started planning my suicide at six, and on medication since I was twelve. I am currently trying to work through a rough patch that has left me with suicidal ideations and a complete withdrawal from my daily life. Sometimes, the worst thing about it is how the people around me react to my depression. They don’t understand why I have had to isolate myself and give me grief about it. They don’t get that I am dying inside, and the only thing holding me back from plunging into the great abyss is that I couldn’t do that to my wife, especially while she is working hard on getting her bachelors in nursing. Severe depression like mine is no joke and is nothing to be taken lightly.

    • Lisa 39

      No its not, i’m glad you have someone in your life that makes you want to stay alive, i’m also glad that you have therapy and meds, anything that helps is a blessing, my mom has issues and has been commited to a mental health facility on more than one occasion for being suicidal, the first time was when i was 13, so i’ve seen firsthand what happens and understand what you’re going through.

      • Mindy McIndy

        Thank you. I know it’s not ideal to live for another person, but my Cindy does make my life better so I figure that I can, you know, not die, which would make her life miserable. I hate that I have to take medication, but the times that I have tried to go off of it have been such disasters that I knew I couldn’t live without it. I am medication resistant, so my meds stop working after several months and I have to go on something else, which is always a pain because not every medication works on every person, and I am going through a med switch right now that is probably part of the reason why I have been in such a depressed state. I am basically doing everything I can to stay out of the hospital, because I am never more miserable or suicidal than I am when I’ve been admitted. I am sorry about your mom and hope she is getting some adequate help. One thing that is really helping me is intensive journaling, which is more than just writing down your thoughts of the day. It really helps me put things in perspective. Perhaps that is something that will help your mom, if she isn’t doing it already. My wife is also doing it, and it is helping her cope with her own struggles and demons from her past. Here’s a link, if you want to read more about it.

        • Lisa 39

          Hey, if living for cindy keeps you alive then that’s what you do, maybe someday you’ll want to live for yourself :), i’m sorry about you having to struggle with med changes, i know sometimes that’s a real bumpy ride, thank you so much for sharing that link and thinking about my mom, i will pass that on when i talk to her tomorrow, she doesn’t have a journal now but i think that would help her alot, cindy sounds like an amazing woman, i think you’re both lucky people.

          • Mindy McIndy

            She is an amazing lady, I hit the jackpot when we got together. Married four years this August and as strong as ever. I would suggest you start journaling too. Even if you don’t have issues like your mom, it is a very good way to organize your thoughts and put stuff into perspective. All you need is a binder with some loose-leaf paper, or even a spiral notebook. It’s a real help, that’s for sure.

          • Lisa 39

            Aww, i’m so happy for you guys, it sounds like you guys belong together! That’s always awesome when people find the perfect person and everything falls into place, that’s awesome about your last name, that makes it special! I tried keeping a journal but i’m not a journaling type but i already have good coping mechanisms and i know how to let things go, but my youngest child keeps a journal, i read it when she’s at school, it keeps me informed of where she’s at, before anyone gets upset over that let me explain why, she’s adopted, her birth mom drank and smoked crack while pregnant, baby girl has adhd and some other problems, me reading her journal lets me know what’s really going on in her mind and that’s more important than violating her privacy, but i never say anything to her or anyone else about what i’ve read unless i’m asking for an opinion on how to handle something. Parenthood is so much fun!

  • Depression sure is awful. I’ve had clinical depression and social anxiety disorder since I was 13, possibly younger… But at that age, no one really questions a ‘moody’ teenager. Thankfully, my mother is lovely and took me to the doctor when I said I needed help at age 16. If she hadn’t taken me seriously, I don’t think I’d be here.

    I’m 21 now… Still dealing with it, sadly. Horribly dependant on my parents and I can’t leave the house alone. I feel like such a burden.

    Ah well. Here’s hoping I’ll show improvement, soon.

    • 2pppppppppppppp6

      Last year, one of my friends was depressed (I’m not sure if it was actual depression, but it certainly lasted a while and at points he considered suicide, so my guess is that it was.) He hated himself and his life. Thankfully, he got a lot of help from friends, school counselor, ect. and is currently feeling just fine. I wish the same for you and all others with depression. 🙂

    • Mindy McIndy

      I am glad your parents saw something was really wrong and got you some help. That’s why mine put me on medication when I was 12- they knew that if they didn’t, they would have a dead daughter, and what I was going through wasn’t simple teenage angst. I hope you do feel better soon. Depression is a long road that can rear its ugly head when you least expect it, but it can still be managed and treated. You’re still young, you will find your independence, but you really need to focus on you for now. It’s the most important thing.

  • Ian Moone

    I’ve had depression for most of my life and let me tell you it sucks. I finally got diagnosed last year and am currently in therapy. I think it’s starting to get better and I have friends now so that’s awesome. If you expect someone might be depressed please get them the help they need. It really is necessary.

  • Kristi Lindley

    I’ve battled with depression and anxiety most of my life. But just as bad are the suggestions from people ‘Get over it, just exercise more, it’s all in your head, it’s just because you went through a breakup/job loss/ liss of loved one’ – people who do not suffer from biological depression think they have the answer but they have no clue what it’s like. Life can be going very well by all accounts but like a black cloud that follows you, the sadness is still there. Van Gogh’s last words were ‘the sadness never ends’….if you have biological depression you’ll understand that. Proper medication, eating right and trying to take care of myself – along with God’s help – haved saved me from being a statistic.

    • Mindy McIndy

      People don’t realize how hard those with depression take those comments. It makes it almost sound like you are depressed because you want to be, and that you can just snap out of it. I’ve tried thought exercises and platitudes and they have gotten me nowehere. In fact, when they didn’t work, it felt like a personal failing on my part. People that say those things have more often than not experienced sadness, not depression. They aren’t the ones who can’t get out of bed or do anything at all productive because your misery is constant. I’ve had people tell me to eat right, exercise and get proper sleep and my depression will go away, completely discounting the fact that when I am in one of my depressive episodes, I cannot eat properly, exercise or get proper sleep. I need to be sedated in order to get any sleep at all. A lot of people think they are helping by spouting these platitudes, but it really has the opposite effect. It makes what you’re feeling seem trivial and unimportant, but when you live, sleep, and breathe depression, it is a completely different story. If someone tells you that they are going through depression, you should really say that you are sorry they feel that way, not condemn them with words that make them feel like jerks for feeling the way they do.

      • Kristi Lindley

        You’re certainly right Mindy. I felt the same way when all I tried wouldn’t snap me out of it, as they say. I even know people in the medical field who feel it’s all in my head – it’s like trying to prove to people you saw a ghost when you know you did. When you have cancer…people don’t expect you to prove it, you know? They don’t tell you to ‘just get over’ chemo. If you ever want a good laugh – pull up Maria Bamford’s bit on how people talk about those with depression. I think it’s important that as a global community we all support each other and try to be understanding.

  • Ryan

    Good article. I’ve got Dysthymia too.

  • lbatfish

    A KN article on depression . . . and it WASN’T written by Morris? How the hell did THAT happen?

    [Just kidding, Morris]

  • Dyizzie

    Perhaps, i am currently experiencing a Major depression. 🙁

  • FemelleChevalier

    I’ve had dysthymia for all of my younger life—as early as eight or nine—that morphed into major depression and anxiety at seventeen.

    Clinical depression sucks. Although personally, I feel more sympathetic towards people who experiences clinical depression in later life. It is more overwhelming because they’re suddenly experiencing this void and emptiness as opposed to their earlier balanced moods.

    People like me—us—has learned, at some point, how to deal with it. But it’s a disorder still, and it’s an awfully debilitating one that can ruin one’s life.

  • We need to be happy with what we have. This is the key to reduce depression. Thanks for the informative post. It will be beneficial for everyone.