Depression And Its Different Types

Emotional lows are normal. Daily, many stressors and factors chip away at our mental well-being, leaving us sad and unmotivated. But when these emotional lows last longer than expected, they may be signs of depression.

What is Depression? 

Depression is one of the three most common mental illnesses in the world! It’s a mood disorder that is capable of affecting a person’s feelings, behavior, and thought patterns. It is greatly influenced by biological, environmental, genetic, psychological, and nutritional factors. 

Symptoms of Depression

Symptoms may differ depending on the type, but here are the most common signs that you may be experiencing depression: 

  • Persistent feelings of unhappiness
  • Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, and helplessness
  • Poor concentration
  • Thoughts of self-harm or suicide
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Weight gain/loss
  • Anorexia (poor appetite)
  • Low self-esteem
  • Anhedonia (inability to feel pleasure in activities you usually find interesting)

To be diagnosed with depression, an individual must have experienced a depressive episode — persistent symptoms of depression for more than two weeks. 

Types of Depression 

While their symptoms might be similar, there are different types of depression. The approach to treating depression depends on its type, so if you think you’re experiencing depression, it’s important to know what type it is so you can properly ascertain the right treatment to receive. 

In this article, we’re examining nine types of depression. They are: 

  • Dysthymia (Persistent Depression)
  • Major/Clinical Depression
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Postpartum Depression
  • Psychotic Depression
  • Situational Depression
  • Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)
  • Atypical Depression
  • Seasonal Depression

Dysthymia/Persistent Depression

Dysthymia is a chronic type of depression that lasts for two years or more. It may be hard to spot because it’s sometimes taken as a normal reaction to life’s challenges. But, although it’s less severe than major depression, it’s still as devastating. 

Signs of Persistent Depression may include low self-esteem, anorexia, anhedonia, constant fatigue, social withdrawal, intense feelings of hopelessness, and poor productivity. 

Treatment: psychotherapy or medication. Depending on how severe, both treatments can be recommended.


Major/Clinical Depression

Clinical Depression is characterized by a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest in activities that used to be pleasurable. It might take the form of anxiety, melancholy, or agitation. 

Common signs of Major Depression are restlessness, weight loss/gain, hypersomnia (excessive sleepiness)/insomnia (difficulty falling or staying asleep), fatigue, and suicidal thoughts.  Once five or more symptoms are present for two weeks or more, a person can be diagnosed with Clinical Depression. 

Treatment: antidepressants, ElectroConvulsive Therapy (ECT), and Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS).


Bipolar Disorder

Also known as Manic Depression, bipolar disorder comes in two stages: Bipolar 1 (The Mania Stage) and Bipolar 2 (The Hypomania/Depression Stage).

Bipolar disorder is a mental disorder that causes unusual and severe mood swings. A person with bipolar disorder may experience “highs” (mania) and “lows” (depression), which may last for a few days or weeks. Symptoms also include hallucinations and recurring thoughts of suicide or self-harm. 

Bipolar 1 (The Mania Stage)

During this stage, an unusual, elevated, or irritable mood lasts for at least one week. Symptoms of mania: euphoria, irritability, insomnia, racing thoughts, talkativeness, and self-destructive behavior. 

Bipolar 2 (The Hypomania/Depression Stage)

An unusually gassed-up state of mind that affects mood, thoughts, and behavior persists for at least four days. Symptoms: unusually high spirits, inflated self-esteem, insomnia, racing thoughts and speech, reckless spending, hypersexuality, inability to focus, irritability, and suicidal thoughts. 

Treatment: The most effective treatment for bipolar disorder is psychotherapy. The use of drugs is rare because it can induce the Mania stage in some persons.


Postpartum Depression

Postpartum Depression is a type of depression that occurs after childbirth and is common amongst women with a prior history of depression. 

Symptoms may include insomnia, loss of appetite, crying spells, intense irritability, restlessness, difficulty bonding with the baby, withdrawing from loved ones, overwhelming fatigue, feelings of guilt, shame, inadequacy, or hopelessness, panic attacks, thoughts of harming oneself or the baby, and recurrent suicidal thoughts. 

Treatment: Treatment for Postpartum Depression depends on severity. Treatment can include antidepressants, hormone therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, counseling, or psychotherapy. 


Psychotic Depression

Psychotic Depression, also called Depressive Psychosis, is Clinical Depression on steroids. It’s a severe combination of depression and psychosis, so it may require hospitalization. 

Symptoms may include hallucinations, paranoia, psychosis, and extreme hours of sadness. 

Treatment: Since Psychotic Depression is a combination of depression and psychosis, it must be treated both ways. Antipsychotic medication and antidepressants are the most common treatments. In rare cases, ElectroConvulsive Therapy (ECT) is used.


Situational Depression

Also known as Adjustment Disorder, Situational Depression is often triggered by a life-changing event and is short-term. It could be caused by trauma, heartbreak, the death of a loved one, unemployment, or life-threatening illnesses.  These are life issues and a sad reaction is normal. However, if it becomes hard to adjust to usual daily life, that may be a sign of Situational Depression. 

Symptoms include sadness, bouts of crying, anxiety, social withdrawal, insomnia, fatigue, inability to focus, and loss of appetite. 

Treatment: Situational depression is very common, and its main type of treatment is psychotherapy. Medication is rarely needed. 


Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)

PMDD  is a severe form of Premenstrual Disorder (PMS) which involves physical and behavioral changes before menstruation. 

Symptoms may include extreme mood swings, extreme sadness, irritability, binge-eating, insomnia, bloating, breast tenderness, or anxiety. 

Treatment: PMDD tends to get better when menstruation commences, but antidepressant medications can be used. Coping strategies like exercising and reducing intake of caffeine can also help. 


Atypical Depression

Atypical Depression is not the “typical” type of depression. People with Atypical Depression experience similar symptoms to Clinical Depression, but the major difference is that their mood improves if something positive happens. 

Coupled with the symptoms of Clinical Depression, people with Atypical Depression may also experience hypersomnia/insomnia, eating disorders, weight gain, heaviness in arms or legs, extreme sensitivity to criticism, body aches, and poor body image. 

Treatment: While psychotherapy is often the best treatment for Atypical Depression, an antidepressant called Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) is usually another form of treatment.


Seasonal Depression

This is a rare type of depression that occurs at the same time every year. Also, it happens in climates where there is less sunlight at specific times of the year.

Symptoms may include depression, feelings of hopelessness, fatigue, oversleeping/insomnia, anorexia/binge-eating, anhedonia, and social withdrawal.

Treatment: Light therapy, talk therapy, physical exercise, and medication.


Final words

Depression is a complex mental health condition that can manifest in various ways. While it’s important to understand the types of depression, it’s also worthy of note that everyone experiences and deals with depression differently. 

If you think you may be suffering from depression, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Here at we are more than happy to provide all the resources and support you need. Remember: you are not alone! 

Dedoyin Ajayi is a Therapist with a specialty in Emotional Health. She has a diploma in Professional Counselling and is a certified Neuro-linguistic Programming practitioner from the Academy of Modern and Applied Psychology. She has an MSc in Psychology (in view) from Liverpool John Moore University, UK.

She presently has a thriving private counseling practice with an average of twenty-six hours per week, vested into both virtual and physical sessions.

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