We all feel sad from time to time. It’s normal to feel down in the dumps after a rough patch in your life. These sad times are a crucial part of our lives that allow us to grow and appreciate the happy times that much more.
However, depression is far more serious than just feeling sad. It’s a persistent feeling of dread, hopelessness, and sorrow that interferes with one’s ability to function normally. A depressive disorder is a mood disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves.
Am I Suffering From Depression?
You may find yourself wondering – Do I have depression? If that’s the case, it’s crucial to understand the different types of depression. This way, you can receive some insight into what you’re going through. We do encourage getting diagnosed by a clinical professional to receive a more accurate diagnosis.
Some types of depression may be caused by events in your life, and others by chemical changes in the brain. Regardless of what type of depression you have, please know that it does get better. With the right help and treatment, you can get to the root of the depression.
Feel free to use this guide to get a better grasp of what type of depression you have, as well as educate yourself on the different symptoms.
Major Depression (Clinical Depression)
Major depressive disorder, also known as unipolar or clinical depression, is identified by a persistent feeling of sadness or a lack of interest in external stimuli. If these feelings last longer than two weeks, then you may be suffering from clinical depression.
Symptoms will vary from person to person as everyone has their own set of unique circumstances. But, generally speaking, these are the universal symptoms of depression one can look out for:
- Feelings of immense sadness, crying, emptiness, or hopelessness
- Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters
- Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities, such as sex, hobbies, or sports
- Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much
- Fatigue and lack of energy, so even small tasks take extra effort
- Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain
- Anxiety, agitation, or restlessness
- Slowed thinking, speaking, or body gestures
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or self-blame
- Trouble thinking and focusing
- Difficulty making decisions
- Memory problems
- Frequent or recurrent thoughts regarding death or suicide
- Unexplained physical issues, such as back pain or headaches
Dysthymia (Persistent Depressive Disorder)
Persistent depressive disorder (PDD), also referred to as dysthymia, is a continuous long-term and chronic form of depression. You may lose interest in normal daily activities, feel hopeless, lack productivity, have low self-esteem, and experience an overall feeling of inadequacy. These emotions can last for years and may significantly interfere with your relationships, schoolwork, career, and day-to-day functioning.
The symptoms of PDD are similar to those of clinical depression. However, the most important difference is that PDD is chronic, with symptoms occurring on most days for at least two years. These symptoms include:
- Persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness
- Difficulty sleeping/Insomnia
- Fatigued/Low energy
- A change in appetite
- Difficulty concentrating
- A lack of interest in daily activities
- Decreased productivity
- Low self-esteem
- A negative attitude
- Avoidance of social activities
Manic Depression (Bipolar Disorder)
Bipolar disorder, sometimes referred to as manic depression, is a complex disorder that likely stems from a combination of genetic and non-genetic factors. Those with bipolar disorder experience mood episodes that involve clinical depression or mania (extreme elation and high energy). In between, there are periods of normal mood and energy where the person may seem like they are functioning normally.
The severity of mood episodes can range widely from very mild to extreme, and they can happen slowly or suddenly within a timeframe of days to weeks. There are different types of bipolar disorder as well. Below are the symptoms of manic and depressive episodes.
Symptoms of a manic episode include, but are not limited to:
- A long period of feeling “high” — an overly elated, happy, and outgoing mood
- Unrealistically believing you can do something
- Engaging in impulsive, pleasurable, and high-risk behaviors (i.e. bad financial investments, sexual indiscretions, large shopping sprees)
- Inflated self-esteem
- Feelings of grandiosity
- Easily agitated
- Increased goal-directed activities
- Increased sex drive
- Making grand and unattainable plans
- Detached from reality — psychosis that may include delusions or hallucinations
Symptoms of a depressive episode include, but are not limited to:
- Feeling sad, tearful, hopeless, or empty for most of the day daily
- No enjoyment or interest in regular daily activities
- Weight fluctuations — including large weight loss or weight gain
- Sleep problems — oversleeping or other sleep issues, such as insomnia
- Restlessness or slowed behaviors
- Suicidal thoughts, planning, or attempts
- Psychosis — being disconnected from reality; delusions or hallucinations
- Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Uncontrollable crying
Postpartum Depression (Peripartum Depression)
Peripartum depression refers to depression occurring during pregnancy or after childbirth. Did you know that an estimated one in seven women experiences peripartum depression? Women that give birth and struggle with sadness, anxiety or worry for many weeks or more may have postpartum depression (PPD).
A woman may experience PPD for a variety of different reasons. These reasons may include the physical changes resulting from pregnancy:
- Restlessness about parenthood
- Hormonal changes
- Previous mental health problems
- Lack of support
- Difficult pregnancy or delivery
- Changes to the sleep pattern.
Recognizing the symptoms of PPD can help you determine when you need help. These signs and symptoms may include:
- Sluggishness, fatigue
- Feeling sad, hopeless, helpless, or worthless
- Difficulty sleeping/sleeping too much
- Changes in appetite
- Difficulty concentrating/confusion
- Crying for “without reason”
- Lack of interest in the new baby, not feeling bonded to the baby, or feeling very worried about the baby
- Feelings of being a bad parent
- Fear of injuring the baby or oneself
- A loss of interest or enjoyment in life
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression related to the change of season. If you’re suffering from SAD, you may notice symptoms beginning and ending at about the same time each year. In either case, symptoms of depression, such as hopelessness and fatigue, start as moderate and grow in severity as the weeks go on.
Those who experience SAD in the fall and winter may experience symptoms of:
- Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
- Weight gain
- Tiredness or low energy
Those who experience SAD in the spring and summer may experience symptoms of:
- Trouble sleeping (insomnia)
- Poor appetite
- Weight loss
- Agitation or anxiety
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, approximately 20% of individuals with depression have episodes so intense that they develop psychotic symptoms. Psychotic depression is a type of depression that occurs when a severe depressive illness includes some form of psychosis.
The psychosis could involve hallucinations (such as hearing a voice telling you that you are no good or worthless), delusions (intense feelings of worthlessness, failure, or having sinned) or another interference with reality. Aside from the general symptoms of depression, psychotic depression may also include signs of:
- Growing agitation and restlessness
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Escalating complaints of pain or ill health
- Further intellectual impairment
- Bouts of physical immobility or unresponsiveness
- Irritability and hostile responses
- Paranoia, feelings of persecution
- Odd and illogical speech or actions
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder, or PMDD, is a cyclic, hormone-based mood disorder, it’s commonly considered a severe and disabling type of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). According to a study in the American Journal of Psychiatry, only around 5% of women are diagnosed with PMDD.
The core symptoms of this type of depression are anxiety and a depressed mood. Although, behavioral and physical symptoms may also occur. The symptoms of PMDD generally show up the week before the start of a period and last until a few days after it begins.
The signs of PMDD may include:
- Mood swings
- Depression or feelings of hopelessness
- Intense anger and conflict with other people
- Tension, anxiety, and irritability
- Decreased interest in usual activities
- Difficulty concentrating
- Change in appetite
- Feeling out of control
- Sleep problems
- Cramps and bloating
- Breast tenderness
- Joint or muscle pain
- Hot flashes
Atypical depression is a subtype of major depression or dysthymic disorder that involves several specific symptoms. Atypical depression is similar to clinical depression, but with atypical features. This means that your depressed mood can brighten in response to positive events.
These specific symptoms include:
- Increased appetite or weight gain
- Sleepiness or excessive sleep
- Marked fatigue or weakness
- Moods that are strongly dependent on environmental circumstances
- Feeling extremely sensitive to rejection
Situational Depression (Reactive Depression/Adjustment Disorder)
Situational depression is also referred to as reactive depression or adjustment disorder. It is a short-term, stress-related type of depression. Situational depression can occur after a traumatic event or a series of changes in one’s life. Examples of events or changes that may onset situational depression can include (but not limited to) divorce, job loss, loss of a friend, getting very sick, and relationship issues or changes.
Situational depression stems from a person’s inability to accept the change that has occurred. The majority of people who experience situational depression begin to have symptoms within about 90 days following the event.
Symptoms of situational depression may include:
- Feelings of low mood and sadness
- Tearfulness; frequent bouts of crying
- Poor concentration
- Lack of motivation
- Loss of pleasure
- Withdrawing from normal activities
- Loneliness or social isolation
- Thoughts of suicide
Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder (DMDD)
DMDD is a type of depression that has been discovered fairly recently. In 2013, it appeared for the first time in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). DMDD is a psychiatric condition that’s typically only diagnosed in children.
The key symptoms of DMDD are identified as:
- Temper tantrums – these tantrums are not considered normal for a child’s age
- Severe temper tantrums – yelling, screaming, or behavioral outbursts (physical aggression toward people or things)
- Outbursts – occur approximately three or more times a week
- Irritability and angry mood between tantrums – disturbances in mood for the majority of the day, nearly every day
- Tantrums occur in multiple settings – symptoms are present in at least two settings, such as at home, in school, or with peers.
In addition to the above symptoms, diagnosis generally requires that:
- The disturbance in mood has been occurring most of the time for a year.
- The child is between 6 to 17 years of age.
- The symptoms were present before the age of 10.
- Tantrums aren’t due to another condition, like autism spectrum disorder, a developmental disability, or the effects of substance abuse.
Seek Help For Any Type of Depression Today
If you’re struggling with any type of depression, don’t shy away from getting help. We understand that depression can be an overwhelming challenge to go through. You or a loved one may feel lost and hopeless about a better future.
But we’re here to tell you that it gets better. But you must take that first step. Progress requires effort. Our rehab programs offer many different forms of treatment from therapy to support groups. With the right treatment plan, you can set forth towards a better life.