For those suffering from depression, it can be easy to believe that their symptoms and struggles are broken down into two basic types:
- Clinical Depression: Depression that requires ongoing treatment from a therapist and possibly medication.
Normal Depression: Depressions that come and go through seasons of life, requiring that one simply let it pass and move on with their life.
- Unfortunately, this categorization leaves out both the vast amounts of clinical research that has been completed on depression as well as the chance for those suffering to find the right help they need. Breaking down depression into categories that don’t allow one to understand the symptoms and underlying issues can leave them feeling unheard and isolated in their suffering.
Depression can be a difficult concept to understand – both for those who struggle with depression and those who desire to help their loved ones heal from this mental illness. By taking the time to educate yourself on the types of depression, you can better understand particular systems and find help for treating your particular type.
In this article, we will break down the seven most common types of depression that individuals struggle with, and help those suffering learn how they can find hope and healing amid their suffering.
Before taking a dive into the several types of depression that exist, it is essential to have a working base knowledge of depression itself. While most individuals will have experiences in life that cause them to have “gloomy” or “dark” days, an ongoing feeling of hopelessness and an inability to engage in everyday activities with eagerness may point to a deeper mental health issue.
In the clinical medical world, depression is often defined as a mental health disorder that results in an individual feeling persistently hopeless, anxious, unmotivated, sad, or angry. The experiences and symptoms vary across individuals and types of depression, but a hallmark feature is that these feelings are consistent and last longer than expected.
Depression has the ability to interfere with one’s mental, emotional, and physical life. Often, they lose interest in activities and relationships that once brought them joy, and will cause them to withdraw from their life in all spheres.
In order to help those suffering from depression find the help and hope they need to move forward, knowing the particular type of depression that they are struggling with is necessary. Through years of experience working with individuals across the spectrum of depressive symptoms, here is a breakdown of the 7 most common types of depression.
The 7 Most Common Types Of Depression
Listed below are the seven most common types of depression, including a brief overview of one’s experience as well as the potential symptoms that may come with that particular type. As with any mental illness, it is vital that you speak with a licensed therapist in order to diagnose and treat any mental health problems.
Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)
One of the more serious types of depressive disorder is known as Major Depressive Disorder. When individuals refer to themselves as having been diagnosed with a depressive disorder, it is likely that they are suffering from a form of MDD. MDD is a severe mood disorder that can cause one to suffer from ongoing depressive emotions and lose interest in their daily life.
MDD features some or many of the following symptoms:
- An ongoing depressed mood that can range in severity
- Loss of interest in daily life that results in the inability to engage with work or others
- Wild fluctuations in weight gain and loss
- Disrupted sleep or the inability to remain asleep at night
- Physical feelings of fatigue and a lack of motivation
- Trouble concentrating on daily tasks
- Recurring thoughts of death or consideration of an attempt to commit suicide
Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD)
Another type of depressive disorder that affects nearly a good number of adults in the United States is known as Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD). Also referred to as dysthymia, persistent depressive disorder is a type of depressive disorder that is marked by ongoing depressive symptoms for more than two years.
With PDD, the depression can range from mild to severe, and many individuals will experience small lapses in the depression before falling back into depressive tendencies once more.
Those who have visited me in my psychologist San Luis Obispo office often report some or many of the following symptoms of PDD:
- An overwhelming sense of chronic sadness
- Lack of interest in activities that were once enjoyable or engaging
- Ongoing feelings of anger and irritability that one cannot pinpoint
- Overwhelming feelings of guilt, low self-esteem, and a sense of hopelessness
- Disrupted sleep and an inability to fall asleep quickly
- Oversleeping and an ongoing lethargy
- Physical fatigue and a lack of energy to engage with daily life and other people
- Changes in appetite and fluctuation in weight
- Trouble concentrating
Those who find themselves experiencing symptoms similar to MDD or PDD with times of elevated energy may be suffering from Bipolar Disorder. Bipolar Disorder is a type of depression that is notable for moments of low depression and high elevated moods – often referred to as mania.
Those suffering from Bipolar Disorder will find themselves swinging wildly from a depressive episode to a manic episode, often with severe impacts to their mental state. As they move between depression and mania, individuals may find that they are unable to take part in daily tasks and activities or are often distracted by their mental state. Mania is quite marked in that a person acts like they are on overdrive and cannot stop.
In some cases, those with Bipolar Disorder need to be hospitalized as they lose the ability to safely engage with daily life and experience detachment from reality. Those who suffer from Bipolar Disorder will often find that they experience many of the symptoms present with other depressive disorders as well as the following:
- Increased lethargy and fatigue
- Inability to sleep (insomnia) or sleeping too much
- Psychomotor agitation
- A sense of hopelessness and a general loss of one’s self-esteem
- Anger, irritability, and a sense of overwhelming anxiety at one’s circumstances
- Inability to make decisions and a general feeling of disorganization
Postpartum Depression (PPD)
Another type of depression that accompanies the hormonal changes that occur with a woman’s pregnancy. These hormonal changes both during the pregnancy and after delivery can result in changes to one’s mood and can potentially lead to an onset of depression.
One danger with Postpartum Depression is that the feelings of depression that can come with hormonal changes are often dismissed as “baby blues” – the feeling of stress and exhaustion that comes with being a new parent. Unfortunately, many individuals continue to feel the impacts of postpartum depression long after the baby has been delivered, and can interfere with their ability to engage with their child and other loved ones.
While mood changes and feelings of anxiety and irritability are common in the days to weeks immediately after giving birth, any symptoms that continue more than two weeks may point to Postpartum Depression. In some cases, the symptoms of Postpartum Depression can become severe enough that one requires hospitalization and treatment.
The symptoms of Postpartum Depression can vary, but often include the following:
- A general feeling of sadness and anxiety
- Mood swings that range in severity
- Withdrawal from social interactions and loved ones
- Difficulty with parenting and bonding with the new baby
- Changes to one’s appetite
- Trouble sleeping or sleeping too often
- Feelings of failure or inadequacy in parenting and relationships
- Increased anxiety and potentially the appearance of panic attacks
- A need to escape from one’s surroundings
- Thoughts of hurting oneself or others
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)
One type of depression that has been well-known but woefully misunderstood – in part due to popular culture- is Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD). Often occurring just before a woman menstruates, PMDD can bring on severe symptoms of depression that interfere with one’s ability to engage with everyday life.
The most common symptoms of premenstrual dysphoric disorder are similar to the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) – which can often prevent those who are struggling from getting the help they need to treat their symptoms. By understanding the difference between PMS and PMDD, those suffering can get the help they need to weather the depression that comes on strong each cycle.
The symptoms of PMDD symptoms – while similar to PMS – may also include severe symptoms such as:
- Sudden and extreme fatigue or lethargy
- Persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness
- Mood swings that come with anxiety, stress, and crying
- Anger and irritability that can interfere with relationships
- Struggles to concentrate on tasks and loss of motivation in daily activities
- Sudden food cravings or an experience of binging
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Another type of depression that can bring on severe symptoms during the winter season is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder. (SAD) Those suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder often find that symptoms of depression often arrive each year when the winter months come.
Studies into Seasonal Affective Disorder have shown that the changes in one’s normal circadian rhythm during the winter months can spur sudden changes in mood and experience. This can cause individuals to feel depressed when the amount of daily light they take in falls, and the days shorten.
While research into SAD is still ongoing, those who suffer from this type of depression often attribute their struggles to seasonal issues, and don’t seek the help they need to enjoy the winter season.
Those who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder often find that they experience the following symptoms during the winter:
- Feelings of depression and sadness
- Trouble sleeping or the feeling that they are always tired
- Weight gain during the winter months
- A sense of hopelessness and loss of interest in daily tasks
- Withdrawal from social interactions
- A return to normal mood once spring arrives
A final type of depression that many experience is known as Atypical Depression. Those suffering from this type of depression often find that they face many of the same symptoms that are present in other depressive disorders, only to discover that they feel better once a positive life event occurs that distracts them from their depression.
Atypical Depression is known as atypical due to the way that depression symptoms and impacts don’t often occur as they do with other types. As studies into Atypical Depression continue to grow, research that once sought to find a “normal” type of depression symptoms and behavior often conflicts with those who still exhibit the symptoms of this type depression.
There are far more individuals who struggle with Atypical Depression than once thought, and are often better treated with medication.
Those who suffer from Atypical depression often report symptoms such as:
- Sudden weight gain
- A desire to binge eat or eat excessively
- Excessive sleep more than normal
- Feelings of fatigue and weakness
- Sudden fears of rejection by others
- Moods that vary and may often swing between happy and sad
Determine The Best Method For Help With A Local Psychologist San Luis Obispo
The various types of depression each come with a unique experience for each person. While some may exhibit severe symptoms with Postpartum Depression, another may have only slightly irritating symptoms of Atypical Depression that come and go with time. Regardless of the type of depression and severity of symptoms that one suffers from, there is hope for managing depression with the help of a trained psychologist San Luis Obispo.
As more information continues to come out about each type of depression, new treatment methods are becoming available. With the help of an experienced counselor on your side, you can take the steps necessary to move toward a place where you enjoy daily life once again and find yourself thriving in everyday activities and relationships. Learning more about each type of depression will enable you to better understand your own symptoms, or the symptoms of someone you know who is suffering.
Discover the services that I offer as a San Luis Obispo psychologist by calling my office or visiting my site online today. Together, we can move toward hope and healing from depression and discover a new passion for a life worth living.