Understanding the Different Types of Depression
Depression is not a single disorder. Different types of depression
have been identified, and within each type, a wide range of
symptoms of varying degrees of severity exists. The following
is a brief overview of the different types of depression.
Symptoms of Depression
Although the various types of depression are quite distinct, they
all share a common group of symptoms. Often a diagnosis hinges
on how many of the symptoms are present, and how severely
they affect the individual. Symptoms of depression include:
-feelings of “emptiness”
-pessimism about future events
-low energy levels and low sex drive
-mental impairment (difficulty concentrating, loss of memory)
If several of the above symptoms are present for a period of
at least two weeks and are present at a particularly intense
level, a psychologist or psychiatrist might diagnose major
depression. Major depression may occur only once in a
lifetime, or it may recur throughout life. Combinations of
therapy and medication are usually used to treat major
Dysthymia presents with much the same symptoms as a
major depression, but the symptoms are less severe.
Dysthymia generally lasts longer than major depression: a
diagnosis of dysthymia requires that symptoms of depression
have been present for two or more years. Like a major
depression, dysthymia is treated with medication, therapy,
or a combination of the two. Dysthymia tends to be more
resistant to treatment than major depressions, and lasts
longer if left untreated.
Also known as manic depression, bipolar disorder is
characterized by periods of depression interspersed with
periods of mania. Over two million Americans suffer from
bipolar disorder. While depressive periods have similar
symptoms to other types of depression, mania symptoms
are quite different, and include euphoria, a false sense of
well-being, poor judgment, inappropriate social behavior
and an unrealistic view of personal abilities.
Post Partum Depression
Eighty percent of women experience the “baby blues”
after the birth of a child: hormonal changes, the physical
stresses of birth, and the emotional strain of new
responsibilities can make the first few weeks after a birth
emotionally trying. The “blues” usually last two to
three weeks, and then resolve without any need for
For ten percent of new mothers, however, the blues don’t
go away. Instead, they develop into post partum
depression. Without treatment, post partum depression
can develop into a major depression or dysthymia.
Postpartum psychosis is a rare complication of post
partum depression. Only one or two out of every thousand
women are affected by it. The woman begins to display
psychotic behavior, often directed at the new baby.
Hallucinations and delusions are common. Postpartum
psychosis is a serious condition that puts the lives of
both mother and child at risk.
Risk Factors for Depression
Depression may develop when one or more of these
factors are present:
-a family history of depression
-a personal history of depression
-death of a loved one
-chronic pain or illness
-drug or alcohol abuse.
Popular culture creates many misconceptions about
depression. Depression is not:
-a sign of weakness
-a personal failing
-just feeling sad.
Coping With Depression
In addition to medications and therapy, there is further
help for those dealing with depression in their lives. On
the Internet, free depression chat rooms and discussion forums are the
online version of support groups.
And speaking of support groups, there are
free depression support groups in many cities throughout
the U.S. and beyond. Help, empathy and compassion is often
found in the company of others.
Depression and anxiety go hand-in-hand with some people.
Learn more about the signs and symptoms of anxiety here.
Take A Depression Test
Although there are different types of depression, the symptoms
are similar. Taking a depression screening and getting more
depression information is a first step toward getting better.
You may decide to go to your doctor and ask him/her for a
depression screening. Or a depression test online may give
you enough information
to take the next steps.
There are several trusted, and
confidential online depression screenings and tests:
Goldberg Depression Scale
Mania Screening Test
(Keep in mind that the mania test is for Bipolar Disorder--
when someone goes through a period of depression, then
a period of mania, this comprises Bipolar Disorder.)
Geriatric Depression Mood Scale
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