There are many types of depression.
If you’ve been struggling or feeling hopefully this article will give you some clarity before you speak to our doctors here at Success TMS.
Depression is a mental health condition that takes shape in a variety of ways and reveals itself in many different symptoms.
Your life with depression may not match how someone else experiences depression.
Even if both of you feel sad regularly, for instance, you may have moments of extreme energy, while your friend is always lethargic.
Why the difference?
You and your friend probably have different types of depression.
Different Types of Depression
It’s important to learn about the different types of depression and what form of depression you suffer from, so you can find the right treatment option for you.
1. Major Depressive Disorder
Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a mood disorder in which a person experiences most of the following symptoms for more than two weeks:
- Low mood
- Lack of interest in activities that were previously enjoyable (known as anhedonia)
- Weight loss or weight gain
- Changes in sleep
- Feelings of worthlessness, despair, and guilt
- Trouble concentrating
- Suicidal thoughts
MDD can be mild, moderate, or severe depression.
When it’s mild, the illness makes minor disruptions in your social life or work.
In cases of severe MDD, more symptoms are present, and they are much more intense.
This can be highly distressing and unmanageable. It can lead to significant issues in your relationships, career, and daily life.
Treatment options for MDD depend on the causes(s) of the disorder, but usual courses of action include:
- Talking therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, humanistic therapy, psychodynamic therapy, existential therapy, and mindfulness-based approaches
- Antidepressant medication, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), and tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs)
- Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) for six or so consecutive weeks
Dysthymia (persistent depressive disorder) is a mild, long-lasting type of depression.
People suffering from dysthymia experience symptoms that are less severe than those felt by MDD patients.
The difference is that they experience these symptoms for much longer: two years or more. When you have dysthymia, you’re always “down.”
Since dysthymia symptoms last for so long and may not majorly impact your life, you may not even realize you have the condition.
You might think it’s normal to feel how you’ve been feeling.
Dysthymia can be treated with a combination of these options:
- TMS treatment
- Antidepressant medication
- Lifestyle changes, like improved diet, regular exercise, and restful sleep
3. Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder is a type of depression in which a patient swings between periods of abnormally elevated mood (mania) and depressive episodes.
When the periods of mania are extreme, this is called hypermania.
This can significantly impact your everyday functioning.
Hypermania sometimes requires hospitalization and can affect your grip on reality. Hypomania, on the other hand, is a less severe form of mania.
During the manic phase of bipolar disorder, you may feel intensely euphoric. It’s common to have:
- Lots of energy
- Wild ideas
- Ambitious plans
There is a tendency to act impulsively, spending money on things that are out of your budget or you wouldn’t normally buy.
When experiencing mania, people will not feel like eating or sleeping and will talk quickly.
They can also become easily irritated or agitated.
Since bipolar disorder includes periods of mania, as well as depression, treatment is different than it is for MDD, which doesn’t include mania.
A psychiatrist may recommend that you take a mood stabilizer, like lithium.
This helps prevent the intense highs and lows associated with bipolar disorder. Talking therapy can also help you recognize what triggers your mania and depression and better manage your symptoms.
4. Psychotic Depression
Psychotic depression is when a person struggling with depression also experiences psychosis. Psychosis is when you lose touch with reality. Signs and symptoms of psychosis include:
- Delusions (false beliefs and perceptions)
- Hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not present in reality)
- Disorganized thoughts and speech, shown by switching topics erratically
Psychosis shares many of the same symptoms as MDD, such as:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sleep problems
- Social withdrawal
- Suicidal thoughts
Psychotic depression tends to be treated with a combination of antidepressant medication and antipsychotic medications (neuroleptics). Common neuroleptics include aripiprazole (Abilify®) and quetiapine (Seroquel®).
Medication may not work for some people with psychotic depression. This is why transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is sometimes recommended. TMS treatment stimulates the cells in your prefrontal cortex with painless electromagnetic pulses.
The cells become better at regulating your mood.
5. Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression affects some mothers after childbirth. You might have heard it called “baby blues,” though it’s more serious than the blues.
This type of depression has been linked to the major hormonal shifts that happen during pregnancy.
After giving birth, your levels of estrogen and progesterone rapidly drop.
This can lead to changes in your brain and, as a result, intense mood swings. Many women often lose sleep when looking after new infants, and sleep deprivation can worsen the symptoms of depression.
The condition can feature a constant lack of energy, exhaustion, and sadness.
New mothers may also experience postpartum psychosis, a mental health condition in which depression is accompanied by confusion, hallucinations, or delusions.
Lifestyle changes can help reduce your symptoms of postpartum depression. Effective strategies may include:
- Getting enough sleep
- Making time for physical activity
- Using a supportive network of family and friends
- Eating regular, healthy meals
- Asking others to watch your child
6. Seasonal Affective Disorder
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that follows a seasonal pattern. Most people experience SAD in the winter, which it’s also called “winter depression.”
Other people feel normal in the winter but depressed in the summer.
The mood change of SAD has been linked to a lack of vitamin D, which is what sunlight produces in your body.
Some people with SAD find that light therapy helps to reduce their symptoms. Light therapy involves sitting by a special kind of lamp, called a lightbox. This stimulates the production of vitamin D3.
There are some side effects of light therapy:
- Blurred vision
Starting TMS therapy ahead of the season in which you feel depressed can help you enter a tough time of year with an elevated mood and a strategy for coping with SAD.
Your portrait of depression is unique to you, but it’s likely to fall under the umbrella of one of these types of depression.
Understanding how the types differ in terms of their causes and symptoms is a crucial first step in finding an effective treatment.