What Types of Depression Are There?

Depression can manifest in many different forms ranging from mild to severe. Learn about the different types of depression including major depressive disorder (MDD), persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia), bipolar disorder & more.

What Types of Depression Are There?

Depression is a serious mental health condition that can affect people of all ages and backgrounds. It can manifest in many different forms, ranging from mild to severe. Major depressive disorder (MDD) is the most common type of depression, but there are several other types that can affect people in different ways. These include persistent depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, seasonal affective disorder, psychotic depression, peripartum depression, postpartum depression, premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), and situational depression.

Traditional antidepressants are often prescribed to treat major depression, but they may not be the best option for people with bipolar disorder. For these individuals, a combination of antidepressant and antipsychotic drugs may be more effective. Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is also an option for those with severe depression that does not respond to medications. Talk therapy can help people with bipolar disorder recognize and manage their symptoms.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is sometimes recommended for those with psychotic depression who do not respond to medications. Major depressive disorder is a state in which a dark mood consumes everything and you lose interest in activities, even those that are usually pleasurable. Symptoms of this type of depression include difficulty sleeping, changes in appetite or weight, loss of energy, and feeling worthless. Thoughts of death or suicide may occur.

It is usually treated with psychotherapy and medication. Persistent depressive disorder, formerly known as dysthymia, is a type of mild and long-lasting depression. People suffering from dysthymia experience symptoms that are less severe than those experienced by patients with MDD. Because the symptoms of dysthymia last so long and may not have a major impact on your life, you may not even realize you have the condition. Bipolar disorder is a type of depression in which a patient oscillates between periods of abnormally elevated mood (mania) and depressive episodes. Since bipolar disorder includes periods of mania as well as depression, treatment is different from MDD, which does not include mania.

This helps prevent the intense ups and downs associated with bipolar disorder. Seasonal affective disorder is a period of major depression that occurs most often during the winter months, when days get shorter and you get less and less sunlight. It usually disappears in spring and summer. Postpartum depression affects some mothers after childbirth. You may have heard it called “postpartum melancholy”, although it is more serious than sadness. Symptoms can include difficulty sleeping, changes in appetite or weight, loss of energy, feeling worthless or hopelessness. Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is similar to perinatal depression in that it may be related to hormonal changes.

Symptoms often start right after ovulation and begin to subside once you have your period. Situational depression, or adjustment disorder with depressed mood, resembles major depression in many ways. Unlike other forms of depression, it is triggered by a specific event or situation. Not only is depression difficult to endure, it is also a risk factor for heart disease and dementia. If you experience cognitive or mood changes that last more than a few weeks, it's a good idea to contact your doctor or see a mental health specialist to help determine possible causes.

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