Although we all feel sad at one time or another, when those terrible feelings don’t go away after two weeks straight and it seems that you can’t function normally, you may actually be depressed.
Some of the symptoms of depression including deep, profound feelings of sadness, irritability, mood wings, insomnia, lack of interest in things you’ve loved, withdrawal from friends and family, appetite changes, and persistent thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
But because depression is different for everybody, you may experience only one or a couple of these symptoms, or you may experience them all. As mentioned, everyone might think or feel this way from time to time, and it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re depressed – but if these feelings start to really affect your day-to-day life, it’s not a bad idea to seek the advice of a medical professional to find out if you do have depression, and what type of depression you might have.
That’s right – there are many different types of depression. They share common symptoms, but key differences set them apart. Let’s take a look at some of them:
Major depressive disorder, sometimes referred to as major or classic depression, is so common that it’s said to affect over 16 million Americans at least one time in their lives. People with major depressive disorder experience symptoms every day throughout the day, and it has nothing to do with circumstances or events or what life has thrown at you.
As a matter of fact, many successful, supported people have reported depression, saying that despite having the life of their dreams – a great job, a loving relationship, many friends, plenty of disposable income – they’re still depressed. They either can’t sleep or want to sleep too much, have inexplicable bouts with body aches, carry around constant worry, are no longer authentically interested in past hobbies, and may even regularly think about suicide or death.
Persistent depressive disorder, or chronic depression, is depression that can last for two years or longer. It’s also known as dysthymia. This kind of depression has symptoms that don’t necessarily feel as intense as those that accompany major depression, but they’re long-term and can come in waves. Those who have persistent depression and who experience episodes of major depression are said to have double depression.
Bipolar disorder used to be called manic depression, when the individual might experience periods of mania. In one minute they might feel really happy and then the next, terribly sad. For someone to be diagnosed with this type of depression, they would have to have experienced a manic episode for seven days or more. Some people have depressive episodes before manic episodes, and in very severe cases, some people can start seeing things (hallucinations or delusions) may participate in risky or self-destructive behaviors.
Psychosis involves delusions or hallucinations, when the individual starts to lose touch with reality. This is when they might hear things or see things or people that aren’t there, or they’re determined things that don’t make sense are happening. To others, it might seem incredible or impossible, but for the person experiencing psychosis, it’s all very, very real.
Postpartum depression occurs after the birth of a baby, but it’s not exactly just the “baby blues.” If a mother experiences symptoms for two weeks or more, and the symptoms are beginning to take over, leaving her ill-equipped to take care of herself or her baby, that could be postpartum depression. In severe cases, it could escalate to postpartum psychosis.
Perinatal depression may not be as talked about as postpartum depression, but it’s real too. Perinatal depression happens during pregnancy, thanks to hormonal changes that can lead to mood swings and discomfort.
Seasonal depression is also known as seasonal affective disorder and it happens during certain seasons, like the fall and winter. In the colder, darker months, people are affected and might experience weight gain, sadness and an increased desire to sleep. Some people find they get worse as the season drags, leading to suicidal thoughts.
Atypical depression can go away when the individual experiences happy, positive circumstances, so this is a tough one because the person may not even realize they’re depressed. Atypical depression is no less serious than other types of depression – it’s actually often referred to as major depressive disorder with atypical features.