Types of Depression: The 10 Most Common Depressive Disorders in Humans

Insaf Ali

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DepressionNews Medical

We all feel upset or unmotivated sometimes, but depression is more than just feeling low. It’s a serious condition that alters our moods and changes our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

Depression is often used as an ‘umbrella term’ for a variety of disorders — some of which are the result of dysfunctions of the brain’s chemical structure, and others, a result of certain life events or situations.

Therefore, it’s important to understand that while some symptoms associated with various depressive disorders overlap, there are some key distinctions. Thus, learning more about the different types of depression is a big step toward recognition and healing.

Here are the ten most common depressive disorders you should know about:

Number 1 — Major Depression

Major Depressive Disorder — also known as Clinical Depression — is characterized by a prolonged state of sadness or a complete loss of interest or pleasure in any activity.

People with Major Depression often experience exhaustion and lethargy, as well as an inability to focus — even though they may sleep a lot more than usual.

They often feel irritable, restless, or agitated — which results in them lashing out at loved ones, or completely withdrawing from them. Extreme negative thinking and the inability to see positive solutions are often prevalent. So is unintentional weight loss or weight gain.

If you recognize yourself in five or more of these symptoms and they last for more than 14 days, you may have this type of depression.

Number 2 — Dysthymia

Dysthymia — also known as Persistent Depressive Disorder — is a type of depression that lasts for years and severely affects the quality of a person’s everyday life.

Sufferers of Dysthymia have trouble finding joy — even when it comes to typically joyous occasions. They are often perceived by others as gloomy or pessimistic, as they tend to complain a lot.

Symptoms of Dysthymia can come and go and may vary in severity; however, sufferers generally don’t find themselves symptom-free for more than a couple of months at a time.

Number 3 — Manic Depression

Bipolar Disorder — or Manic Depression — is a mental health condition that causes extreme mood swings, and changes in thinking, behavior, energy, and sleep.

This type of depression has two extremes that interchange — from experiencing dangerous and self-destructive thoughts to feeling ecstatic and super energized.

These extreme mood swings may show up only a couple of times throughout the year, or they can occur more frequently — such as every week.

Number 4 — Postpartum Depression

It is not uncommon that women experience sadness after giving birth due to the dramatic hormonal changes that occur. This state is often referred to as the ‘baby blues’ — and it usually subsides in a couple of weeks. However, about 1 in 7 women will face a somewhat more serious condition, known as Postpartum Depression.

These mothers struggle with sadness and anxiety for several weeks, or even longer in some cases. They become distant and withdrawn from family and friends, and lose interest in activities they otherwise enjoy.

Changes in eating and sleeping habits often result in anger and irritability, and a general feeling of tiredness.

Number 5 — Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression that’s related to the changes of seasons. For most people, symptoms start in the fall and remain throughout the wintertime — though it is possible to experience this type of depression in the spring or summer as well.

In either case, symptoms such as fatigue, sadness, and a general lack of interest in activities begin to manifest mildly, and progress as the weeks go on. 

This can have a serious effect on close relationships. People with Seasonal Affective Disorder may also experience feelings of heaviness in their arms and legs and may struggle with frequent oversleeping.

Their cravings for carbohydrates tend to increase significantly — which often results in weight gain.

Number 6 — Psychotic Depression

Depression may evolve into a more serious condition over time. Approximately 20 percent of those with depression have episodes so severe that they develop psychotic symptoms.

People with Psychotic Depression experience symptoms of both depression AND psychosis. This mental state manifests as disorganized thinking or behavior — characterized by false beliefs or hallucinations.

Number 7 — Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)

Another disorder among women is Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder — a cyclic, hormonal mood disorder. It’s considered a more severe type of Premenstrual Syndrome.

While most women do experience PMS symptoms, around 5% are diagnosed with Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. Typical symptoms include depressed mood and anxiety, but changes in behavior and some physical manifestations may occur as well.

To be diagnosed with this disorder, a woman must have these symptoms during most of her menstrual cycles for the past year, with an adverse effect on her work or social functioning.

Number 8 — Atypical Depression

You would be surprised to hear that Atypical Depression is one of the most common types of depressive disorders. It is categorized as a ‘subtype’ of Major Depression, with certain differences from the persistent sadness or hopelessness that characterizes Major Depression.

Symptoms include an increase in sleeping and eating, irritability, and heaviness in the arms and legs. People also experience sensitivity to rejection, as well as relationship problems.

The trademark of Atypical Depression is the ability of a depressed person’s mood to improve following a positive event.

Number 9 — Situational Depression

Situational Depression — or Reactive Depression — is a short-term, stress-related type of depression. It can develop after about 90 days following a traumatic event or a series of changes to a person’s everyday life.

For example, the passing of a loved one, a diagnosis of a severe illness, ending a marriage, or hardships in a relationship.

Situational Depression is, therefore, a type of Adjustment Disorder — as it stems from a person’s struggle to make peace with the changes they experience.

Number 10 — Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder (DMDD)

This is a relatively new type of depressive disorder — affecting children — who struggle to regulate their moods and emotions in an age-appropriate way.

Children suffering from Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder exhibit frequent temper outbursts in response to frustration — which can manifest either verbally or behaviorally.

In between outbursts, these kids tend to experience chronic, persistent irritability. It’s important to note that physical illness can also increase the possibility of developing a severe depressive disorder.

Depression can be caused by several medical conditions that affect the body’s systems, as well as chronic illnesses that cause ongoing pain. Additionally, substances — such as alcohol, pharmaceutical, or recreational drugs — can also be a trigger.

Thus, if you suspect that you may have any of the mentioned types of depressive disorders, it is crucial to be as frank as possible when consulting your healthcare provider. This way, you can get the help you need, and begin your healing journey.

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