What Are The 5 Types Of Depression And Can You Determine Which One You Have?

Updated November 14, 2022 by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Content Warning: The following article mentions topics related to depression and suicide. If you or a loved one are experiencing suicidal thoughts, reach out for help immediately. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255, and is available 24/7. Additionally, the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance can be reached in times of crisis by calling 988 or texting DBSA to 741-741.

Depression can take many forms, and it can be hard for some to identify whether they are experiencing a type of clinical depression, or if there is another condition causing them to experience symptoms of depression. A licensed in-person therapist can diagnose your depression, and online therapy can help you navigate the symptoms of your depression.

Depression Can Be Difficult To Navigate On Your Own

Symptoms Of Depression

When short-term grief or sadness becomes intense and includes feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness, depression may develop. Though people in your life my colloquially say they are “feeling depressed”, clinical depression is a medical condition that 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 the presence of depression:

  • 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
  • Lack of desire to participate in activities that you used to enjoy
  • Frequent headaches or body aches and pain with no apparent cause

Self-diagnosing depression based on these symptoms is not recommended.Your primary care provider or a licensed in-person therapist can provide you with a diagnosis. They may recommend treatments including medication and/or therapy, which can help you develop a plan to address your symptoms.

There are many possible causes of depression, which include faulty mood control in the brain, genetic vulnerability, your environment (including stressful life events), medications, and medical problems. The combination of some of these may result in, or contribute to, the development of clinical depression.

Types Of Depression

Although there are many different diagnoses for depression, 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 of depression. Certain contributing factors and symptoms characterize each type, thoughevery person is unique and likely to experience depression in different ways.

  • Major Depressive Disorder: Individuals who have major depression tend to experience a loss of interest in activities, even ones that they may have previously enjoyed. Other symptoms of major depression include trouble sleeping, decreased or increased appetite, weight change, 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 describespersistent 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 dailyactivities, butthey 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 typical 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.

  • Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): As the name suggests, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is characterized by seasonal 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 get help from a licensed therapist.
  • Postpartum Depression: Postpartum depressionis 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.

Therapy 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 seeking therapy. Many types of therapy, including cognitive behavioral therapy, can be helpful tools to understand your feelings and develop strategies to manage your depression.

Depression Can Be Difficult To Navigate On Your Own

A 2021 peer-reviewedstudyof 6,132 adults found that online cognitive behavioral therapy is an effective way to manage symptoms of depression and anxiety. Online therapy from platforms like BetterHelp provide 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 available. 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.

You Don’t Have To Face Depression Alone. Our Experienced Counselors Can Help.

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