Most Common Types of Depression

Some people think about depression as an umbrella term covering all types. Or sometimes, they do not realize there are different depression categories. Some simply divide it into two categories — the sadness we all feel sometimes or clinical depression. In fact, there are different types of depression with a variety of causes, symptoms, and treatments. Here are the most common types of depression and what you need to know about each one.

The Definition of Depression

We define depression as a mood disorder from a clinical standpoint. It affects people in different ways, but one common element is a feeling of sadness. Some may lose interest in what normally brings them joy. Some withdraw from friends and family. Depression causes a vast range of symptoms. From sleep changes and eating habits to self-loathing and self-harm, depression encompasses some people’s entire lives. Fortunately, there are treatment methods that allow you to get help.

Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)

You may have heard of the term “clinical depression.” This is typically what people mean when they describe major depressive disorder or MDD. This type of depression has key elements that characterize its symptoms. These include:

  • Feeling sad or having depressed feelings
  • Thoughts about suicide or death
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Lack of enjoyment from previous things that brought joy
  • Concentration difficulties
  • Feeling guilty for no reason
  • Feeling worthless

If a person displays many of these elements for more than two weeks, a doctor may diagnose them with major depressive disorder.

Persistent Depressive Disorder

In the past, they called this type of depressive disorder “dysthymia.” We now know it as its current term — PDD or persistent depressive disorder. This type of depressive disorder has some of the same symptoms of major depressive disorder. Yet, there are levels of the diagnosis. Persistent depressive disorder can have mild, moderate, or severe symptoms. It is a chronic disorder, and a doctor can diagnose it when the symptoms present themselves for more days than not. Another element is that this must have been going on for at least two years.

The symptoms include:

  • Concentration problems
  • Feelings of sadness
  • Appetite changes (including weight loss or gain)
  • Loss of pleasure or interest in the things normally interested in
  • Lack of energy or fatigue
  • Irritability and anger
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Feeling guilty for no reason
  • Sleeping too much
  • Insomnia or difficulty staying asleep
  • Low self-worth or self-esteem

There is treatment available for persistent depressive disorder that includes psychotherapy and specific medications.

Bipolar Disorder

According to Very Well Mind:

Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder characterized by periods of abnormally elevated mood known as mania. These periods can be mild (hypomania) or they can be so extreme as to cause marked impairment with a person’s life, require hospitalization, or affect a person’s sense of reality. The vast majority of those with bipolar disorder also have episodes of major depression.

Almost 3 percent of U.S. adults — or about 5 million people — have this diagnosis. That isn’t even counting those who have untreated bipolar disorder.

Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

The three major symptoms of this disorder include depression, hypomania, and mania. While this varies, some experience the depression phase for at least two weeks. The mania and hypomania can last as long as weeks or as little as days at a time. Sometimes the mood shifts only happens twice a year. It all depends on the person with bipolar disorder.

During the depression stages, the symptoms are typical of other types of depression. They include:

  • Extreme sadness
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Hopelessness
  • Changes in sleep patterns (too little or too much)
  • Lack of energy
  • Lack of interest in loved activities

The hypomania stage is similar to the mania stage. The difference is that it is not as extreme.

The mania stage is where the person feels an emotional high. They are excitable, have lots of energy, and engage in impulsive behavior. This may lead to problems with spending money. A person who is manic may engage in reckless sexual activity or even illegal activities. Some people with bipolar disorder do not always seek help because they feel the most creative, adventurous, and happiest during times of mania. Some who are experiencing mania may decide to start a new business or a specific project. This may lead to taking out loans or spending more money than they can afford. None of this is them being irresponsible or reckless on purpose. It’s the sickness that is causing these symptoms.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

There is a type of depression that only affects us during certain times of year. We know this as seasonal affective disorder or SAD. Those suffering with this type of depression may feel fine the rest of the year. Yet during the winter months, they experience weight gain, feel fatigued, and suffer from depression.

This disorder is more than what we know as the winter blues. People experience overwhelming feelings and find it difficult to function the same. The number of people suffering from this disorder is around 5 percent of the population. Yet, it can last up to 40 percent of the year. Fortunately, there is treatment available. It is interesting to note that most of the people who have this disorder are from areas where there is the least amount of sunlight. For example, you will find more people in Alaska with SAD than you would in Florida, because Alaska tends to be darker and colder.

According to the American Psychiatric Association:

SAD has been linked to a biochemical imbalance in the brain prompted by shorter daylight hours and less sunlight in winter. As seasons change, people experience a shift in their biological internal clock or circadian rhythm that can cause them to be out of step with their daily schedule. SAD is more common in people living far from the equator where there are fewer daylight hours in the winter.

Perinatal Depression

We know perinatal depression as postpartum depression. This is a type of depression that affects some women right before or right after having a baby. Like SAD, postpartum depression had a whimsical name — the baby blues. Yet, perinatal depression is a serious matter. The symptoms range from mild to serious, and without help, the mother’s quality of life suffers. Symptoms of postpartum depression include:

  • Frequent crying or weepiness
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Fatigue or low energy
  • Changes in appetite
  • Loss of enjoyment in once pleasurable activities
  • Increased anxiety
  • Trouble feeling connected to your developing baby (called poor fetal attachment)

Some may have more serious symptoms, such as thoughts of suicide or thoughts of hurting the baby. In fact, the range in PPD is vast. There may be minor symptoms like sadness or extreme symptoms from postpartum psychosis. With this condition, the woman may have delusions, hallucinations, and confusion.

Treatments like hormone therapy, counseling, and medication helps with perinatal depression.

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder has many symptoms, and some of the most common are mood changes, bloating, irritability, anxiety, and fatigue. There are also symptoms such as tender breasts, increased appetite, aches, food cravings, and more. Yet, with premenstrual dysphoric disorder, the symptoms are more related to mood and are more prevalent. Some of these symptoms include:

  • Food binging or cravings
  • Severe fatigue
  • Concentration problems
  • Feeling self-critical, hopeless, or sad
  • Irritability
  • Severe anxiety or stress
  • Extreme mood swings

Treatment Helps

While there are different depression types, all are treatable. At Transformations Treatment Center, we focus on your needs and how we can help you heal. We offer psychotherapy options and medication-assisted treatment designed to provide unique options for each client’s specific needs. So whether it’s you or someone you love, we can help with compassionate care and treatment.