Depression can feel different for everybody. If you suffer from depression or know someone who does, then you know this mental illness works in various ways, affecting those who are suffering differently.
Some people may have trouble sleeping, while others may want to sleep all the time. Some people may eat too much, or others may not feel like eating at all. Some people will feel good one day and then the next day they will be at rock-bottom. These differences can be attributed to the different types of depression as well as the different reasons depression can result within someone such as improper chemical balance in the brain, the environment, psychological factors, or even through genetics.
Depression is a mental illness that has an impact on your emotions, your thought process, and your actions. There are many types of this mental illness and we will see them in more detail in this article, but the basic symptoms are generally the same, which include:
- Viewing life in a negative way, having no hope
- Feeling like you are a failure, good for nothing, feeling guilty
- Loss of interest in sexual activities
- Trouble sleeping, sleeping too much
- Change in weight and/or appetite
- Feeling tired, lack of energy
- Feeling irritable and restless
- Memory and concentration issues
- Physical health problems such as headaches, chronic pain and stomach problems
- Suicide ideations or attempts
What Are the Different Types of Depression?
There are nine types. Some of these could be caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, genetics, psychological factors, while others can be caused by events that have happened in your life (environmental), or a combination of these. These types are: major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, persistent depressive disorder, seasonal affective disorder, postpartum depression, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, situational depression, psychotic depression, and atypical depression.
Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)
When someone says they are diagnosed with depression, it is normally major depressive disorder as this is the most common, it is also the most common mental illness. According to Healthline, in 2015, 7% of Americans had been affected by major depressive disorder.
As with any mental illness, everyone will be affected differently. Generally when being diagnosed, a person will be feeling down or sad for at least two weeks. This low mood will also be consistent throughout every aspect of the person’s life, meaning that it’s not specific to a certain situation. Although some people will only have one episode of major depression in their life, in most cases they will reoccur. However, with the right treatment, a person with major depressive disorder is still able to live a happy fulfilling life.
The general symptoms that occur when someone is faced with major depression are the same as the ones listed above. They may feel like they do not want to be around anybody and are no longer interested in doing the activities they once enjoyed. Work, school, and personal relationships can all be affected as well.
A person who has MDD tends to isolate themselves and spend a lot of time at home or by themselves. A loss in hope, motivation, or purpose can sometimes infiltrate the victim. Other symptoms such as anxiety, loss of concentration, and suicidal thoughts or tendencies can result as well. See list above for a more comprehensive understanding. Their personal hygiene and general cleanliness of their home can also suffer because the person simply cannot find the energy to do anything. They can sometimes feel like all they want to do is sleep or watch TV.
Sometimes one of the most frustrating things for the person who is experiencing these symptoms is that they do not know why and they don’t understand why they can’t just snap out of it. It is also hard because they may feel like others don’t understand them and just think they are lazy. This in turn only makes them feel more sad, lonely, and like nobody understands them.
What we used to call manic depression is now called bipolar disorder. This one differs from the other types of depression because people who are bipolar will generally have shifts in moods. They will go from feeling depressed to periods of extreme highs, also known as mania or hypomania. During these episodes of mania, the person can feel on top of the world, like nothing can stop them, like they have all the energy to conquer the world’s problems. These shifts in moods can influence how they act. For example, a person may not see the dangers attached to certain behaviors and situations as they may not be thinking clearly. There are also different types of bipolar disorders:
- Bipolar I disorder: In this type, the person has had at least one manic episode that may or may not have caused a psychosis which is when someone loses touch with reality. The manic episode could have come before or after a period of major depression.
- Bipolar II disorder: Someone who is diagnosed with bipolar II has never had a manic episode. They will have experienced major depression as well as what is called a hypomanic episode. Hypomania is like a manic episode, but not as severe and without impairment. The person can feel like they have much more energy and not feel tired but will remain in touch with reality.
- Rapid cycling bipolar: Also called cyclothymia, this type is defined by a quick shift in mood. Normally, a person will feel depressed, but in between they can have small periods of mania or hypomania. In a lot of cases, rapid cycling will develop after a few years of the patient already being diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
- Mixed episodes: In this type, the person will experience brief symptoms of depression and mania in a same episode. It is common for people with bipolar to experience these mixed episodes in their teenage years.
Bipolar disorder can be very complex; for more a more detailed explanation, check out the following video which explains each different type.
Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD)
Persistent depressive disorder, also called dysthymia, is a chronic type of depression in which a person will have all the same symptoms that are associated with major depressive disorder, but not as severe. To be diagnosed, a person will have to have had these symptoms for at least 2 years. It is not uncommon for someone who has PDD to also have episodes of MDD. This means that the person will always have that persistent feeling of sadness, but then the symptoms get worse and will have a stronger impact on their life in general.
A person who has this illness may be viewed as being negative, or just a miserable person without realizing they have a mental illness. It is not uncommon for a person to go through life not even knowing they suffer from this disorder as they just think it’s how they are and that this is their personality.
It is important to realize that although the symptoms may not be as severe, they are constantly feeling at least mildly depressed. It is rare for someone who has persistent depressive disorder to be symptom free for longer than 2 months at a time. It is important to seek treatment when experiencing these symptoms and to not just brush it off, as psychotherapy and other options such as vitamins and minerals can effectively treat this condition.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
We’ve all heard of the winter blues, but you may not realize that it is a real mental illness. Although most common in winter, this disorder is characterized by an onset of depression symptoms during a certain season meaning that they feel normal the rest of the year. In most people, the symptoms will begin and end at the same time each year, generally beginning in the fall when the weather gets colder and the days get shorter. Because of this, one successful treatment option is light therapy which exposes you to artificial light.
The symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder are the same as with the other types of depression, but the season in which the disorder takes place normally have these varying symptoms:
Fall and Winter: sleep more than normal, feel tired, crave foods that are high in carbohydrates, overeating, and weight gain.
Spring and Summer: trouble falling asleep, not feeling hungry, losing weight and feeling anxious or agitated.
After having a baby, it is natural for both parents to feel overwhelmed and stressed out. There are so many adjustments that need to be made in their lives with a new baby and to add to that they are not getting much sleep. This can cause them to be slightly irritable or have mood swings: we call this “baby blues”. This is normal and I think most parents experience this, but it normally goes away once they get settled in their new routine.
Postnatal depression comes into play when these symptoms persist, and they find themselves experiencing the same symptoms as someone who is clinically depressed. Although we normally associate it with new mothers, the father can also suffer from this, as can parents who adopt.
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)
A lot of women experience premenstrual syndrome (PMS), but premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) will specifically have emotional and/or behavioral symptoms with it. The symptoms will start seven to ten days before your period and go away after the first few days of your period. Symptoms of PMS and PMDD are:
- Tender breasts
- Food cravings
However, to be diagnosed with PMDD one of the following must be present:
- Feeling sad or hopeless
- Anxious or agitated
- Mood swings
- Burst of anger or irritability
A lot of people with PMDD have depression and/or anxiety. It is thought that the change in hormones can make the symptoms worse during their menstrual cycle.
Situational depression is caused by stress and is short-term. It is classified under adjustment disorders as the person has a hard time adjusting to their regular life after a traumatic incident or a series of stressful events. Some issues that have been known to cause situational depression are:
- Financial problems
- Issues with a superior at work or a co-worker
- Being diagnosed with an illness
- Moving to a different city, changing schools, changing jobs
- Getting attacked or assaulted, living in a dangerous neighborhood
- Loss of a loved one
- Issues with your relationship, fighting, separation
People who have a previous mental illness or have had a rough childhood have more chances of being affected by this disorder. Medication is not normally prescribed to treat this as psychotherapy is more beneficial and can help the person cope with the challenges they are faced with.
Psychotic depression is a type of major depressive disorder with psychotic symptoms or psychosis. These symptoms include:
- Hallucinations: the person is hearing voices or seeing things that aren’t there. These voices could be telling them that they are a failure or that they do not deserve to live.
- Delusions: believing something that is not true, a false perception. The person may think that they have a physical illness when they don’t.
The person who is experiencing hallucinations and delusions truly believe these to be real which may result in them hurting themselves or others. For this reason, it is important for someone who is experiencing these symptoms to get help as soon as possible, and in most cases hospitalization is necessary.
As with psychotic depression, this is also a subtype of major depressive disorder. What makes it different from your typical depression is that positive or fun events will improve their mood. Normally with major depression disorder, no positive events can make them feel better. Other symptoms that could be present are:
- Eating more, gaining weight
- Sleeping more than normal
- A heavy feeling in your arms and legs, headaches, or other aches and pains
- Being sensitive to personal rejection
After reading this article, I am hoping you will have a better insight on the varying depression types and what effect they can have on somebody. Personally, although I had a good knowledge of depression before writing this article, I did learn a lot about the different types.
If you see yourself in any of these descriptions, it is important to consult with a medical professional before it gets worse. Many treatment options are available for people with depression which include therapy, medication or natural remedies.
For example, 5-HTP is a beneficial natural supplement that increases serotonin levels in the brain and is a great natural remedy for depression without side effects.
If you have any questions, comments, want to add anything, or just want to say hi, you can leave me a message below.