Depression has been a recorded phenomenon throughout the ages, with early historical evidence going back to accounts of melancholia in the ancient Mesopotamian texts. Ancient Greeks and Romans documented melancholia, along with the Babylonians, Chinese, and Egyptians.
Of course, back then, mental disorders were considered to be demonic possessions, so while our modern-day culture has a lot of work to do around accepting depression, we can at least salute the fact that it is actually in the DSM, hooray!
Actually, over the last half a century, the psychological field has made immense progress on the diagnosis, causes, symptoms, and treatments for depression, and extensive research has even found that there are multiple types of depression. So here is a list of the different sorts of depression and the particular signs to watch for.
Major Depressive Disorder
This form of depression, as signified by its name, is considered the most common form of depression. For people who struggle with major depressive disorder, this isn’t just something that lasts for a few days and goes away, this a depression that spans weeks to months at a time.
Some of the most common symptoms of major depressive disorder are:
- Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, shame, and doom
- Weight loss or gain
- Trouble Sleeping
- Constant Fatigue and low energy
- Irritability, trouble concentration or decision making
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities
- Thoughts of suicide
As for the diagnosis standpoint, doctors will primarily conclude a patient is struggling with major depressive disorder if they have at least 5 or more of these symptoms for 2 weeks or longer. According to the DSM, at least one of the most common symptoms present must be a depressed mood and the loss of interest in activities.
The treatment for this type of depression is often medication, exercise, therapy, and healthy eating.
Persistent Depressive Disorder
This type of depression is considered to be more chronic and usually lasts for 2 years or longer. It embodies two different areas of depression known as Dysthymia, or low-grade persistent depression, and chronic major depression.
The most common symptoms are:
- Under or oversleeping
- Lack of energy and fatigue
- Extremely low self-esteem
- Feelings of uselessness or hopelessness
- Changes in appetite (over or under eating)
Again, the best-known remedies for this type of depression is intensive psychotherapy, medications, and healthy diet and exercise regimens.
A person who is diagnosed with bipolar disorder, otherwise known as “manic depression” swings wildly from very high highs to very low lows. For each person, the time in between these periods can vary, ranging from hours to more intense cases to months in others. For most people with the disorder, the periods usually range in the days to weeks category.
The most common symptoms of bipolar disorder are:
- Extreme fluctuations between manic and depressive symptoms
- Depressive: fatigue, feelings of hopelessness, loss of interest in activities, isolation, oversleeping, over or under eating, low self-esteem
- Manic: extremely high self-esteem, easily distracted, reckless behavior, under sleeping, talkative, unrealistic goal setting, possible drug or alcohol abuse
The treatment for bipolar disorder is a little different on the medication scale, as traditional antidepressants have shown to work no better, as they can often increase the manic periods. Most people choose to use a combination of different medications to help “level out” their manic and depressive episodes.
Psychotherapy, exercise, and healthy eating and activities have still been proven to be helpful during both periods of bipolar disorder.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
This is a type of depression that is most common during the winter months in northern states. It is caused by the lack of sunlight present during the days, which leads to a drop in Vitamin D, and has been proven to throw off circadian rhythms, increase feelings of uselessness, and for most people, means they are driving to work in the dark, and driving home in the dark.
For people who experience seasonal affective disorder, antidepressants have been proven to be very helpful during these months, as well as light therapy. You can buy a bright light box online at Amazon, or some people even use tanning beds in low frequency and for a short amount of time.
This is a combination of major depression coupled with “psychotic symptoms” such as:
- Delusions (false beliefs)
A combination of antipsychotics and antidepressants, along with psychotherapy have been proven to be helpful for people with psychotic depression
This is a very common disorder that only affects women. In the few weeks to few months after childbirth, many women become extremely depressed and lose the desire to be close to and nurture their child. This is due to a drastic change in hormones and chemicals in the brain after pregnancy. Antidepressant drugs, psychotherapy, exercise, smart eating, and exposure to the child in a loving environment have been proven to be helpful for mothers with postpartum depression.
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
This is more than just PMS. Women who have PMDD often have extreme mood swings, extreme irritability, anxiety, trouble concentration, fatigue, feelings of being overwhelmed, and changes in appetite or sleep patterns.
A change in pregnancy contraceptives or even antidepressants are the most common treatment for PMDD.
This type of depression is actually not in the DSM, but it has been shown to be one of the more common, yet not discussed, types of depression. This type usually occurs due to some traumatic, overwhelming, or intensely stressful situation in someone’s life that creates a depressed mood lasting for more than a few days. It is often called “stress response syndrome”, and have been reported to occur during a divorce, a death in the family, losing a job, etc.
Psychotherapy, along with finding healthy hobbies and outlets, is primarily enough to alleviate the symptoms of situational depression, and antidepressants are usually not necessary.
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