What are the different types of depression?

Everyone feels “down” from time to time. It is perfectly normal. However, if you happen to feel sad for prolonged periods of time, it may indicate that you are suffering from depression. Clinical depression is a condition that can significantly impact your life and cause numerous other health concerns. Luckily, there are ways of handling it. You can utilize one of the best online mental health therapy programs, for example. That being said, depression is rather complicated. There are many different types of depression, each type requiring a specific treatment approach. This article will list all the depression types and allow you to understand more about them.

What is depression?

To start with, we need to understand exactly what depression is. Basically, depression is a mood disorder that creates persistent feelings of sadness. In most cases, it also makes the person suffering from it lose interest in most of their activities. Depression affects your feelings, your thoughts, and, ultimately, your behavior. If left untreated, depression will heavily interfere with your day-to-day life. Treating depression is no easy task, and you might want to consider searching for the best online therapy for depression that suits you. The reason why you may wish to consider an online therapy solution is that it requires much less effort than traditional therapy. If you are feeling from depression, going to the therapist’s office can seem like an impossible task. With online therapy, you can attend the sessions from the safety and comfort of your own home.

All that being said, not every depression is the same. In fact, it is unique to each person. But there are several distinct types.

The different types of depression

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Major depression
  • Psychotic depression
  • Persistent depressive disorder
  • Atypical depression
  • Treatment-resistant depression
  • Situational depression
  • Peripartum and postpartum depression
  • Seasonal affective disorder
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder
  • Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder
person at a lake
Every person experiences depression differently.

As you can see, there are quite a few depression types. While all of them are considered to be depressive disorders, the main difference is the cause of the depression itself. Let’s analyze each one in turn.

Bipolar disorder

Also referred to as “manic depression”, bipolar disorder makes the person experience extreme mood swings. One moment the person may have extreme bursts of energy, only to be replaced with a depressive period. The depressive period, however, hits really hard and is akin to major depression. Doctors usually prescribe mood stabilizers for bipolar disorder, as well as drugs to treat the depressive phase. Undergoing one of the best online CBT therapy programs is another great way of stabilizing your mood swings. In fact, it is the preferred method of handling bipolar disorder, as traditional depressants may increase the frequency of depressive episodes.

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Major depression

Major depression, or clinical depression, is basically depression that is present most of the time throughout the week. If you happen to be feeling depressed just about every day, you may be suffering from major depression. Diagnosing major depression is a bit “tricky”, however, as it presents itself differently in each person. Some people may feel anxious distress, others may feel melancholy. And some people can manifest their depression by being very agitated. Either way, major depression is usually diagnosed if the patient has five or more major depression symptoms on most days for a period of at least two weeks. Speaking of symptoms, here’s how major depression may manifest:

  • Feelings of guilt and worthlessness
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Constantly tired
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Weight gain/loss
  • Feeling sluggish, restless, or agitated
  • Having trouble making decisions
  • Trouble concentrating
person suffering from major depression
It is very difficult to deal with major depression, but not impossible.

The best treatment for major depression is usually psychotherapy. The benefits of psychodynamic therapy work really well in treating depressive disorders, as well as many other different types of depression. As depression is all inside your head, learning to recognize your thoughts and emotional patterns for what they are is critical.

Psychotic depression

Psychotic depression has all the symptoms of major depression, but introduces several more, most notably hallucinations. Furthermore, people suffering from this depression type also may experience delusions and extreme feelings of paranoia. The treatment for psychotic depression is usually a combination of antipsychotic and antidepressant drugs, but there are studies that explore the benefits of emotion-focused therapy and how they apply to treat psychotic depression. Alternatively, patients may try ECT (Electroconvulsive Therapy), as it may also be able to provide significant improvements.

Persistent depressive disorder

person undergoing psychotherapy
Psychotherapy is one of the best ways to deal with PDD.

When you have depression that is going on for more than two years, you may be diagnosed with a persistent depressive disorder. This disorder is actually a combination of two conditions: Dysthymia and chronic major depression. The symptoms of PDD are similar to major depression, and include:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Appetite change
  • Too much (or too little) sleep
  • Constant fatigue or lack of energy
  • Significant trouble concentrating on anything
  • Trouble making decisions

The best treatment for PDD is psychotherapy. Depending on the cause of the symptoms, patients may consider the benefits of interpersonal therapy, CBT therapy, as well as emotion-focused therapy. The therapist might also prescribe medications to make it easier for the patient. In some cases, medications alone might be enough.

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Atypical depression

The main characteristic of atypical depression is that the person suffering from it will experience significant mood improvements from positive events. This depression type features the following symptoms:

  • More sleep than usual
  • Oversensitivity to criticism
  • Increased appetite
  • Feelings that your arms and legs are heavy

Atypical depression is usually treated with antidepressants, similar to numerous other different types of depression. Most commonly, doctors will prescribe a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) as the first “line of defense”.

Treatment-resistant depression

While depression can always be treated in one way or another, suffering from treatment-resistant depression makes it much harder. Treatment-resistant depression is diagnosed when patients try several forms of treatment without any success. It can be very difficult to manage treatment-resistant depression, as there are unique challenges to overcome. Most of the time, there are significant underlying conditions that influence the treatment as a whole. But there are as many reasons why depression might be treatment-resistant as there are people suffering from it.

Situational depression

person dealing with one of the different types of depression
Losing a job is one of the main causes of situational depression.

Many people experience situational depression when they are faced with an extremely stressful event in their lives. Losing your job, for example, or a death in the family. While feelings of sadness are normal after such events, they can contribute to a depressive disorder if they remain for a long time after the triggering event. The best treatment for situational depression is psychotherapy, as it can help the patients overcome the initial depressive period.

Peripartum and postpartum depression

Some people experience peripartum (postpartum) depression in the weeks and months after childbirth. While it is most common in women, around 10% of men also experience the same depressive feelings. Again, psychotherapy is the first treatment option, alongside antidepressant drugs. The combination of both has great success in treating the depression that comes with the peripartum period. In fact, almost all the different types of depression can benefit from the combination of psychotherapy and antidepressants.

Seasonal affective disorder

Seasonal affective disorder usually happens during the winter months and completely goes away in the spring. The lack of sunlight in the winter months causes this disorder, so the treatment usually involves light. And, of course, antidepressants. One of the common treatments for SAD is sitting in front of a bright light box for around 30 minutes every day.

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder

The premenstrual dysphoric disorder happens at the start of the menstrual period. It involves the “standard” depressive symptoms but adds significant mood swings as well. Some other symptoms might involve:

  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • The feeling of being overwhelmed
  • Change in sleep habits
  • Having trouble concentrating
  • Fatigue

Most of the time, the best treatment for PMDD is simply to take antidepressants at the start of the period. You can also try oral contraceptives, as they can be very effective in some cases, as well.

Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder (DMDD)

DMDD is a condition that happens in childhood, featuring extreme anger and irritability, as well as intense temper outbursts. These symptoms are more than you might find in an especially moody child and require clinical attention. The symptoms usually begin before the age of 10 and involve:

  • Angry/irritable mood most of the day, almost every day
  • Trouble functioning properly in school, at home, or with peers
  • Behavioral or verbal temper outbursts that average more than three times per week

Since DMDD is a rather new diagnosis (first appeared in a 2013 DSM-5 publication), treatment is usually based on other depressive disorders. Meaning psychotherapy and medication. Even though there are already quite a few different types of depression, a new type (such as DMDD) gets diagnosed every several years. This is very important, as more knowledge about the depression type determines what the best treatment is.

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For more information on the best online therapy for depression, feel free to browse and explore the Consumer Opinion Guide. Our knowledge database also features many articles that can help you deal with numerous mental health issues.

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