Today, depression is one of the most prevalent mental disorders and has the capacity to affect our daily functioning. Due to situational circumstances, every one of us will suffer from moderate to mild depression at least once in our lives. Thanks to the growing conversation around the topic, more people are reaching out for help and are able to recover and lead more normal lives. There are actually various types of depression, and not everyone suffers from the same kind. While the symptoms of depression remain the same, there are differences in how the depression is expressed, the duration and the triggers among others. Below are some of the different manifestations of depression:
1. Major Depressive Disorder
Major depressive disorder is one of the most debilitating disorders, if not the most. It is estimated at around 7% of the American population suffers from MDD, and the symptoms are strong enough to make a person want to hurt themselves. Most often, the mental symptoms are irritability, restlessness, lack of concentration, hopelessness, helplessness, worthlessness, feelings of guilt, lack of energy, and extreme sadness. Physical symptoms are unexplained aches and pains, changes in sleeping habits, changes in appetite, lack of libido, gastrointestinal problems and weight loss/gain. Often, the triggers are due to a certain event, but sometimes, can also develop without any triggers. If a family history is present, there is a higher risk of developing the disease. Most often, a combination of medications and talk therapy helps 80 to 90 percent of people to overcome and recover from the depression.
Dysthymia is a virtually unknown disorder, but can also be one of the most prevalent types of depression currently. This type is much less severe than MDD, but the distress is quite real and painful. The low mood in dysthymia lasts over a long period of time, usually for more than a year. People suffering from dysthymia can function, unlike with MDD, but are not functioning adequately or optimally. Symptoms include lack of concentration, fatigue, changes in sleep and appetite along with a constant low mood. The trigger can be due to an event, but it is not necessary for dysthymia to develop. This type of depression responds more positive to talk therapy, and medication may not be needed.
3. Postpartum Depression
It is reported that around 85% of moms feel some sort of sadness once their baby is born, but among them, around 16% of new mothers can be diagnosed with sadness that interferes with their daily activities. This depression is characterized by feelings of extreme sadness, loneliness, fatigue, hopelessness, suicidal thoughts, fears of hurting the baby and feelings of disconnect from the child. It almost always develops within a year of giving birth, and can last for a few months at least. A combination of medication and talk therapy has been found to be helpful for those suffering from postpartum depression.
4. Seasonal Affective Disorder
Around 4 to 6 percent of the adult population in the United States could be suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which is when depressive episodes come about in the winter months. While a lot of people might feel off during the winter months, SAD is characterized by increased irritability, daytime fatigue, weight gain, and some symptoms of anxiety. It is thought that the natural lessening of sunlight during the winter months could contribute to the feelings of depression, but the trigger is not entirely known. The depression could range from mild to moderate, but can also be severe at times. The depression gets better by the time spring starts however, and is usually treated with light or artificial light therapy.
5. Psychotic Depression
Psychosis is a mental state that is distinguished by false sights or sounds, known as hallucinations, and false beliefs, known as delusions. Sometimes, the depression can become so severe that a person develops psychosis along with the depression. This means that patients can become catatonic, not leave the bed at all, and start seeing and hearing things that are not there. A combination of anti-psychotic drugs and antidepressants has seen to help, but each individual case needs to be evaluated before a final treatment plan.
6. Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder is one of the most misunderstood forms of depression, and might require a more rigorous treatment. This depression is characterized by long periods of depression that are followed up with periods of mania or hypomania before returning to depressive episodes again. While the symptoms of depression are very similar to the symptoms of MDD, the bouts of mania set this apart from other types of depression. Symptoms of mania include high energy, racing thoughts, excitement, risky and impulsive behavior, change in sleeping patterns, poor judgment and erratic behavior. This disorder affects 2 to 3 percent of the population and has a very high suicide risk. A family history of this disorder puts a person at more risk. Treatment is medication known as mood stabilizers.