What Are The 5 Types Of Depression?

Medically reviewed by Andrea Brant
Updated October 27, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Content Warning: Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that include suicide which could be triggering to the reader. If you or someone you love is having suicidal thoughts, contact the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988. Support is available 24/7. Please also see our Get Help Now page for more immediate resources.

Depression, a mental illness with various forms, may present as a major depressive episode, seasonal depression, or mood swings. It can be challenging to identify how to deal with depression effectively, whether it's clinical depression or another mental disorder. If you or someone you know is struggling with a depressed mood, it's crucial to explore treatment options such as psychotherapy, antidepressants, or self-care techniques like exercise and mindfulness practices. A mental health specialist can diagnose your depression, while online talk therapy can assist in navigating the symptoms and dealing with depression in daily life.

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Depression Can Be Difficult To Navigate On Your Own

Depression Symptoms

When short-term grief or sadness becomes intense and includes feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness, depression nos may develop, potentially leading to treatment-resistant depression. Though people in your life may colloquially say they “feel depressed,” clinical mental illness is diagnosed based on a series of symptoms. In many cases, having five or more of the following depressive symptoms for at least two weeks indicates its presence:

  • Feeling tired or lacking energy most days
  • Low mood
  • Feeling sadness or grief most of the day, especially in the morning
  • Difficulty focusing, remembering details, or making decisions
  • Feeling guilty or unworthy
  • Sleep problems, such as inability to sleep or excessive sleeping
  • Feeling restless
  • Persistent thoughts about death or suicide
  • Lose interest in activities once enjoyed
  • Frequent headaches or body aches and pain with no apparent cause

Brain stimulation therapies, like electroconvulsive therapy, transcranial magnetic stimulation, and vagus nerve stimulation, can be considered for severe cases.

Self-diagnosing based on these symptoms is not recommended. Many people might assume that depression is fake, yet it affects numerous individuals worldwide. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) provide guidelines for diagnosing and treating depression. Your primary care provider or a licensed therapist can provide you with a diagnosis, and they may recommend a combination of treatments, including medication, therapy, or light therapy, to help you develop a plan to address your symptoms.

Causes

The cause of depression can be faulty mood control in the brain, genetic vulnerability, your environment (including stressful life events), medications, medical problems, or substance abuse. A combination of these factors may result in or contribute to the development of clinical depression. If you suspect (or confirm) that someone you love has depression, it may be prudent to look up how to help someone who is experiencing

Kinds Of Depression

While various diagnoses of depression exist, such as bipolar depression, psychotic depression, premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), situational depression, perinatal depression, and atypical depression, they can all be categorized into five primary types: major, persistent, bipolar, seasonal, and postpartum depression. Each type is characterized by specific contributing factors and symptoms, such as drug abuse, false beliefs, or periods of intense sadness. Every person is unique and likely to experience it in different ways.

  • Major Depressive Disorder: Individuals who have major depression tend to experience a loss of interest in activities, even a positive event that they may have previously enjoyed. Other major depressive disorder symptoms may include trouble sleeping, decreased or increased appetite, weight changes, loss of energy, despair, and feelings of worthlessness. In addition, suicidal thoughts may occur. The APA recommends different depression interventions based on age, but these recommendations may include medication and various forms of therapy.

  • Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD): Formerly called “dysthymia”, PDD describes persistent or ongoing symptoms of depression that often last for two or more years. The symptoms of PDD are typically longer lasting but less intense than symptoms of major depression. Many people experiencing symptoms of persistent depressive disorder feel as though they can handle daily activities, but they may benefit from seeking professional help to reduce persistent symptoms of depression.

  • Bipolar disorder: Commonly referred to as "manic-depressive disorder”, bipolar disorder can present with phases of mania, hypomania, and major depressive episodes that typically last two or more weeks. During depressive cycles, individuals with bipolar disorder may experience symptoms like those of major depressive disorder. However, unlike with major depression, antidepression treatment may not be recommended.

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  • Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): As the name suggests, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is characterized by seasonally depressive episodes, which are particularly common during the winter months. As a seasonally recurring depressive disorder, symptoms are the same as major depressive disorder symptoms, including low energy, sadness, sleeping difficulties, weight change, and suicidal thoughts. The APA recommends individuals with SAD spend extra time outside to get more sunlight during winter months, eat a healthy diet, socialize, stay active, and be treated by a licensed therapist.

  • Postpartum Depression: Postpartum depression is a common mood disorder affecting people after the birth of a child. Though commonly associated with mothers,anyone, regardless of gender, can experience postpartum depression. Some people may be at a higher risk of experiencing postpartum depression, including those with a history of:

    • Major depressive disorder

    • Generalized anxiety disorder

    • Economic instability

    • Limited social support from a partner, family, or friends.

How common is depression in your life? Do you believe you can beat it without help? Online counseling for depression and medications are commonly used to help address symptoms of postpartum depression.

What Type Of Depression Do I Have And What Can Be Done?

While there are many resources for information about depression online, you can only receive a diagnosis from a physician or mental health professional in person. If you're experiencing symptoms that concern you, you can make an appointment with your primary care provider for an initial evaluation.

Your provider may recommend counseling or therapy. They may also formulate a treatment plan for depression that includes regular exercise, mindfulness meditation, and cognitive-behavioral therapy to help manage your symptoms. Many types of depression therapy, including cognitive behavioral therapy, can be helpful tools to understand your feelings and develop strategies to manage your condition.

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Depression Can Be Difficult To Navigate On Your Own

Online Therapy

A 2021 peer-reviewed study of 6,132 adults found that online cognitive behavioral therapy is an effective way to manage depression and anxiety symptoms. Online therapy from platforms like BetterHelp provides therapy that you can schedule from the comfort of your own home, and it may be more affordable than in-person therapy.

Takeaway

Symptoms of depression can feel overwhelming at times, but there is help to find. Some people may worry about stigma surrounding mental health when deciding whether to seek professional help. But many people experience depression at some point in their life, and a professional can help you address your symptoms. If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, you can make an appointment with your primary care provider or seek the help of an online therapist who can help you manage your symptoms.

Depression is treatable, and you're not alone

The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
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