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Types of Depression

Depression has several variants. Some are common; some aren't. Leave none of them unchecked, as none are pleasant. Before fighting your depression, you need to know what you're dealing with.

This page helps you figure that out, summarizing the major categories of depression I can help you work through.

Major Depressive Disorder


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Major depression's prime indicator is a significant decrease in everyday functioning. It's also accompanied by feeling hopeless, negative, and worthless for at least two weeks. Major depression is also accompanied by sleep disturbances, such as hypersomnia (excessive sleeping) or insomnia (inability to sleep). Appetite fluctuations like over-eating or significant loss of appetite also occur. It's also characterized by unusual fatigue, memory loss, and difficulty with concentration and everyday tasks.


Dysthymia


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If you haven't been enjoying life, and feel as though you've just been "going through the motions" of it, you probably have Dysthymia. Those with it bleakly trudge through work, marriage, parenting, and life while seeing little point to it and feeling that happiness is beyond their grasp.

The good news is that dysthymia impairs functioning less than major depressive disorder. The symptoms are similar, but less crippling. Those with dysthymia feel sad more often than not and exhibit anhedonia (difficulty enjoying things formerly pleasurable) for a period of at least two years.


Bipolar Disorder


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Bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic depression, is characterized by manic episodes of a week or longer, followed by a depressive period of a week or longer.

Manic episodes are characterized by elation, bursts of ideas or creative energy, pressured and rapid speech, and a significant decrease in the need to sleep. They are also accompanied by a sense of being on top of the world and invincible.

Depressive episodes involve hopelessness, helplessness, and a mix of features experienced by those with major depressive disorder.


Atypical Depression


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Atypical depression is characterized by short episodes of depression characterized by weakened forms of major depressive disorder's symptoms. People with atypical depression can be cheered out of their depressive states by pep talks from those the afflicted finds close or trustworthy.

Sluggishness is more salient in atypical depression than other types. If your arms and legs feel heavy, and like you're operating in slow motion, you may be experiencing atypical depression.


Postpartum Depression


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Postpartum depression brings symptoms of major depressive disorder within 4 weeks of child birth. Hormonal fluctuations and previous depressive episodes contribute to postpartum depression.

Lack of sleep over a prolonged period (as during labor) exarcerbates depression in anyone, but women are especially vulnerable after delivery.

New mothers may feel overwhelmed by the responsibilities of caring for an infant. Agitation and frustration grow as there is no time to recharge their batteries. They are embarrassed to ask for help, for fear they'll be perceived as weak, and overextend themselves, becoming even more drained. Those feelings of numbness and flatness then pose difficulties in bonding with the newborn.


Seasonal Affective Disorder


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Those suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder generally feel pretty normal, but slip into depression when a certain time of year rolls around. Some begin feeling down as winter's chill sets in, while others sink into it as summer heats up. For this reason, it's occasionally called winter blues, or summer depression.

Depressive symptoms of SAD generally mirror those of dysthymia or major depressive disorder during certain times of year. SAD is thought to be triggered by fluctuating levels of neurotransmitters like Serotonin and hormones like Melotonin. These fluctiations are said to be caused by changes in exposure to light.