You might be dealing with depression.
Depression is one of the most well-documented mental illnesses to have ever existed. It affects an astounding 264 million adults every year. As per the official statistics by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), nearly 7% of US adults are affected by the condition.
However, despite such immense impact and exhaustive research, many people fail to understand that depression is more than just one diagnosis. It is not a one-size-fits-all problem.
There are different types of depression in psychology, and understanding these types gives you an idea of how to find the right help. Additionally, it provides you the comfort of understanding what you are going through and what you should expect in the future.
To help you get started, we will dive into the nine different types of depressive disorders. We will also look into their symptoms and treatment options to give you a clear picture. Whether you want to gain more information on your or your loved one’s condition or just increase your awareness and knowledge, this is the perfect place to get started. Let’s dive in.
7 Types Of Depressive Disorders
1. Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)
As per the NIMH, MDD is the most common of the different types of depressive disorder. It affected around 21 million in 2021. Therefore, when people generally say they are suffering from clinical depression, they usually refer to this particular type.
As per Harvard University, MDD is characterized by a dark, gloomy mood, where a person loses interest in activities, even those they previously enjoyed. Per the American Psychiatric Association’s diagnosis criteria, a person is deemed to have MDD if they have at least five or more symptoms for two weeks or more consecutively.
The symptoms of major depressive disorder include the following:
- persistent sadness,
- loss of energy,
- loss of interest in activities,
- appetite changes,
- feelings of worthlessness and guilt,
- changes in sleep patterns, and
- persistent thoughts about death and suicide.
Major depressive disorder is divided into two different types – melancholic and atypical forms of depression. Those with atypical depression sleep often and are generally highly emotional and anxious. On the other hand, those with melancholic depression generally have trouble sleeping and have guilt-ridden thoughts.
Causes: While there are no well-defined causes for MDD, several factors, including hormones, brain chemistry, genetics, and neurobiology, play a significant role in its development.
Treatment: The most common treatment line for this one from the different types of depression in psychology includes psychotherapy and medications. For those with particularly severe cases of MDD, transcranial magnetic stimulation or electroconvulsive therapy might be used.
2. Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD)
Formerly known as dysthymia, persistent depressive disorder is one of the forms of depression that persists for two years or more. In PDD, the affected individual has a persistent dark mood along with two other symptoms of depression for two years or more.
While persistent depression might not be as severe as MDD, it significantly affects people’s lives. Even though it might not affect the day-to-day functioning of the affected individual, it is bound to make them feel stuck.
As per the official statistics by NIMH, this type of depression has affected 1.3% of US adults at some point in their lives.
Apart from dark and gloomy mood, people with PDD have two of these symptoms:
- sleep problems,
- appetite changes,
- feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness,
- poor concentration,
- difficulty in making decisions,
- low self-esteem, and
- a constant lack of energy.
Causes: Just like some other forms of depression, the cause of PDD is also unclear. However, brain chemistry and genetics play a probable role in the onset.
Treatment: The treatment options for persistent depression include psychotherapy and medications.
3. Depression Due To Bipolar Disorder (BD)
Bipolar disorder was formerly known as manic depressive disorder. While further research has proved that bipolar disorder and depression are two different conditions, they are still interconnected.
People with BD experience bouts of depression characterized by intense mood fluctuations, from gloomy to elated. This form of depression is diagnosed if the affected individual has experienced at least one manic episode.
The treatment for depression due to bipolar disorder is usually aimed at stabilizing moods. Manic episodes might have elements of both high energy (mania) and depression.
Causes: People are more at risk for depression due to bipolar disorder if they have a family history of the condition. Apart from this, differences in brain structure are also a cause.
Treatment: The treatment line for this one from the different types of depression in psychology contains the following medications:
- mood stabilizers,
- antipsychotic medicines,
- antidepressants, or
- atypical antipsychotics.
Apart from medications, psychotherapy and electroconvulsive therapy (in rare or severe cases) are used.
4. Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)
The next in our list of the different types of depression in psychology is premenstrual dysphoric disorder, an extreme form of the much-talked-about premenstrual disorder. This is one of the kinds of depression unique to menstruating people.
The symptoms of PMDD usually crop up during the period of your ovulation and period. To put things into perspective, this means that around five percent of menstruating women are in pain every month for around two to three weeks.
Symptoms of PMDD can trigger severe anxiety, stress, and depression, affecting a person’s daily life. Other signs that you should look for include the following:
- feelings of anger and irritability,
- thoughts of suicide,
- mood swings,
- lack of interest in any activity or relationship,
- food craving,
- bloating, and
Causes: An abnormality or fluctuation in hormones and serotonin levels is a probable cause for the condition.
Treatment: The treatment line for this one from the types of depression in psychology contains the following medications:
- antidepressants (specifically selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors),
- birth control pills, and
- pain medications.
Healthy lifestyle changes, including a balanced diet, effective stress management, and regular exercise, might also help.
5. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that usually affects people who are more sensitive to the increased lack of light during the winter and autumn seasons. That being said, the disorder can also occur in the summer season.
The prevalence of seasonal affective disorder is difficult to determine as it is one of the forms of depression that goes highly unreported and undiagnosed among individuals.
Causes: SAD is one of the forms of depression that is caused by changes in serotonin and melatonin levels along with disruptions or changes in the circadian rhythm. As per the NIMH, young adults, females, and people who live in areas with shorter days are more at risk of developing SAD. It can also run in families.
Treatment: SAD can be treated with psychotherapy and medications like other different types of depression in psychology. However, light therapy is the go-to choice for health professionals for this depressive disorder.
6. Situational Depression (SD)
The next one in our list of types of depressive disorders is a form of depression that arises from stress – situational depression.
It is a type of depression that arises due to a massive change in a person’s life. It is also referred to as adjustment disorder with depressive symptoms. People with SD find it difficult to adjust to traumatic or life-altering events.
Symptoms of SD are the same as other types of depression in psychology. However, they generally arise within three months of the traumatic event and resolve within six months.
Causes: There are no pre-defined causes of SD. Any form of stressful life event or change can trigger a person’s situational depression. However, these events and incidents might not affect everyone in the same way. Vulnerability to these triggers rests majorly on a person’s personality and life experiences.
Treatment: Treatment options for situational depression include the following types of therapy:
- cognitive-behavioral therapy,
- stress-management therapy, and
- group therapy.
7. Postpartum Depression (PPD)
Pregnancy can bring a lot of hormonal changes in a woman’s body that can significantly affect her moods. Add a dash of sleep patterns and routine changes in the mix, and you have the recipe for postpartum depression.
Apart from the common symptoms of other different types of depressive disorders, mothers with PPD have difficulty bonding with and taking care of their babies. In several cases, they might even have thoughts of harming themselves or the baby.
Causes: As mentioned above, the causes of PPD are hormonal imbalances and lifestyle changes during and post-pregnancy.
Treatment: If left untreated, the symptoms of postpartum depression can be extremely debilitating for the mother and the baby and extend up to one year. Several treatment options, including hormonal therapy, medications, and counseling, have proven efficient in treating the condition.
Depression is not a one-size-fits-all problem. It is a challenging mental health condition that occurs of the conditions and comes in multiple forms. We hope this list of the different types of depression in psychology will help you understand the common forms of depression. Equipped with this knowledge, you can now effectively look out for yourself and your loved ones.
Depression is a mental illness that requires proper professional help. Access to professional help is now easier than ever with the advent of online therapy platforms. To learn more about the most affordable online therapy platforms, click here.
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