While many people are starting to understand what depression actually is, some are still unaware that there are several different types of it. In my pursuit of raising awareness of this serious illness, I have compiled a list of the various types and how they differ from one another.
Major Depressive Disorder
Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), also known as Clinical Depression, is one of the most common types of depression and is often what people perceive depression to be. It is a prolonged and severe type of depression that can often affect one’s behavior, daily routine, appetite and even interests. For severe cases, some even resort to inflicting harm upon themselves.
Although the causes for MDD is subjective to each individual, research has shown that some common triggers include:
- alcohol or drug abuse
- side effects of certain medication
- other activities that may cause hormonal imbalance
- certain medical conditions
Psychotic Depression is another type of depression where the illness is accompanied by psychosis (ie: hallucinations and delusions). While this form of depression may be mistaken for schizophrenia, it is fundamentally very different. Studies have shown that people who are diagnosed with psychotic depression only face these hallucinations when going through a depressive episode. Schizophrenic patients, on the other hand, tend to face it anytime.
While psychotic depression is not talked about as much as MDD, it is just as serious and may potentially be more harmful. According to Anthony J. Rothschild, a professor in psychiatry,
“The suicide rate in people with psychotic depression, when they are ill and in their acute phase, is much higher than it is with major depression,”
“One of the reasons that psychotic depression is not easily diagnosed is that people with psychotic depression often realize that their thoughts may not be ‘quite right’ so they keep them to themselves.”
Some of the common factors of psychotic depression includes childhood trauma, sexual trauma or even physical abuse. Many cases have also shown that people have a higher chance to develop psychotic depression as they age.
While it shares many common traits with MDD, situational depression is a form of depression that doesn’t last as long and is usually short-term. In addition to that, situational depression tends to be caused by a certain traumatic event that had happened.
Some of these traumatic events include:
- Death of a loved one
- Marital or relationship problems
- Near-death experiences
- Unemployment or retirement
- Other major life changes
Even though situational depression is triggered by a certain event, there exists some biological factors that may increase its risk according to recent studies. Such factors include:
- Abnormalities in brain structure
- Hormonal abnormalities
Also known as Manic Depression, bi-polar disorder is a condition where a person has very intense mood swings. This will result in an individual feeling an intense sense of happiness at one point, and an extreme low at another.
There are four major types of bipolar disorders.
- Bipolar I Disorder
- This is when a person who is bipolar also experiences an intense manic episode. Manic episodes are extreme highs and will often bring along a severe feeling of euphoria. Some episodes can be so severe that the patient may need to be admitted into the hospital.
- Bipolar II Disorder
- As opposed to bipolar I, people with bipolar II will experience a more severe depressive episode. These episodes will last at least two weeks and will usually be followed by a hypomanic episode.
- Cyclothymic Disorder
- A person is diagnosed with cyclothymic disorder when they’re mood swings follow a cyclical pattern. They’re highs and lows are usually not very severe, however if left untreated, it could get worse.
- Bipolar disorder due to other reasons
- Studies have shown that there exists certain patterns that do not match the previous type. However, due to the abnormal mood changes, a person will still be diagnosed as bipolar.
Post-partum depression occurs in mothers after a pregnancy has occurred. This happens due to the rapid changes in hormones (such as estrogen and progesterone) that happens after giving birth. Some of these symptoms include:
- Depressed mood and excessive crying
- Withdrawing and distancing from loved ones
- Irritability and anger
- Fear of being an inadequate mother
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Thoughts of self harm and/or suicide
Although it is rare, some people have also experience psychosis amidst having post-partum depression.
There has also been cases where new fathers also experienced post-partum depression. However, unlike the hormonal changes in women, men usually face depression due to the anxiety of not being able to provide for the family. Be it financially, emotionally or other aspects, the new responsibility can often be overwhelming as well as stress-inducing.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that is due to the changes in season. Studies have shown that people who are diagnosed with SAD often feel depressed during fall and winter. However, there are some, albeit much less, that show symptoms in spring and summer instead.
Some of these symptoms incude:
- Feeling depressed and worthless
- Having trouble sleeping
- Changes in appetite and weight
- Thoughts of self harm and/or suicide
Some of the main reasons for SAD is the changes in serotonin and melatonin levels. Changes in sunlight levels and sleep patterns have a very significant affect on our mood and may very possibly trigger depression. That is why, people who are diagnosed with SAD are often encouraged to attend phototherapy (light therapy).