What are the Different Types of Depression and How Can They be Treated?

The severity of depression ranges from mild episodes to severe forms like major depressive disorder & persistent depressive disorder. Learn about different types & how to treat them.

What are the Different Types of Depression and How Can They be Treated?

The severity of depression ranges from mild, temporary episodes of sadness to severe and persistent depression. Clinical depression, also known as major depression or major depressive disorder, is the most severe form of depression. It 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, feeling worthless, and thoughts of death or suicide.

It is usually treated with psychotherapy and medication. For some people with severe depression that is not relieved by psychotherapy or antidepressant medications, electroconvulsive therapy may be effective. Persistent depressive disorder, formerly called dysthymia, is a type of chronic depression present for more days than not for at least two years. It may not reach the intensity of major depression but can still strain relationships and make daily tasks difficult. Symptoms may include changes in appetite and sleep, lack of energy, low self-esteem or hopelessness.

If you or someone you love is struggling with depression, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), currently called major depressive disorder with a seasonal pattern, is a type of depression that occurs during the winter months. Symptoms include cognitive or mood changes that last more than a few weeks, such as depression, sleepiness, and weight gain. Prevalence rates for SAD can be difficult to determine because the condition is often not diagnosed or reported. Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is another type of depression that affects women. Common symptoms include irritability, fatigue, anxiety, bad mood, bloating, increased appetite, food cravings, pain and tenderness in the breasts. Atypical depression is different from the persistent sadness or hopelessness that characterizes major depression.

Symptoms may include increased appetite and weight gain, sleeping too much, heavy feelings in arms and legs, sensitivity to rejection and feeling better after positive events. Traditional antidepressants are not always recommended as first-line treatments for bipolar depression because there is no evidence that these drugs are more useful than a placebo (a sugar pill) for treating depression in people with bipolar disorder. Postpartum depression (PPD), currently classified as peripartum onset depression, is more than just “postpartum melancholy”. Symptoms may include sadness or emptiness; difficulty bonding with the baby; feeling overwhelmed; feeling guilty; difficulty concentrating; fatigue; changes in appetite; insomnia; irritability; anxiety; panic attacks; and thoughts of harming yourself or your baby. Depressive psychosis or psychotic depression is another type of severe depression in which many of the physical symptoms of depression are present. Symptoms may include delusions (false beliefs) or hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren't there).Bipolar disorder used to be known as “manic depression” because the person experiences periods of depression and periods of mania, with periods of normal mood between them.

Several types of psychotherapy (also called “psychotherapy” or counseling) can help people with this type of depression. Gaining a deeper understanding of the different types of depression can help you get started on the path to diagnosis and recovery. 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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