Depression Has More Than One Look

That Psych Nerd

Breaking down depression and the variations of depression.

Depression is a disorder that can negatively impact your life and cause you to think, feel, and act differently. In fact, both extremes on the spectrum will negatively impact someone, either with depression or mania.

Growing up in my toxic family, I always noticed how my depression symptoms were treated as something that was nothing more than the sniffles.

It wasn’t that big of a deal.

I was treated as if my symptoms were nothing more severe than the next ‘depressed’ person. In fact, my toxic family acted as if I was a liar, a fake, and seeking nothing but attention.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, these are the typical list of symptoms (or diagnostic criteria) of depression:

  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
  • Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
  • Irritability
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
  • Decreased energy or fatigue
  • Moving or talking more slowly
  • Feeling restless or having trouble sitting still
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
  • Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
  • Appetite and/or weight changes

Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and/or that do not ease even with treatment

(Source: National Institute of Mental Health, Depression)

This is only an essential list of symptoms that are most common to see and used for diagnosis. Not everyone will experience every symptom on this list. But this also does not mean symptoms are merely confined to what is on this list.

Different Variations of Depression

Mental illness will look different for everyone, so we cannot have a one-size-fits-all approach to mental health. The variations in circumstances, genetics, and environment can influence people in drastically different ways.

Throughout my life, I have noticed how differently depression can affect everyone. I noticed how my depressive episodes would look drastically different than a friend experiencing the same disorder.

Variations occur with any disorder — not just mental health — it’s to be expected.

Major Depressive Disorder

People who live with major depressive disorder experience periods of depressive symptoms but also have periods of being at their baseline. This type of depression doesn’t frequently occur for someone, but that doesn’t lessen the severity.

A depressive episode can last anywhere from a few weeks to months — some symptoms can persist for a year.

Dysthymia

Also known as persistent depression, it is where someone experiences ‘mild’ depression symptoms every day with little to no relief. But don’t let the word mild fool you; mild symptoms can still affect someone’s quality of life.

Compared to a depressive episode, someone will experience symptoms of depression daily. Dysthymia can last for nearly two years, but the symptoms won’t be as severe as major depressive disorder.

Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression isn’t always caused by some significant reason — other than it being a complication of giving birth to a baby. Sometimes these feelings of depression can be misunderstood as the baby blues.

It’s not uncommon for someone to experience the “baby blues,” but that should typically last for only 3–5 days.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Typically people with SAD will experience a lessened mood in the fall, which continues until the conclusion of winter. Also known as seasonal depression, this disorder occurs with changes throughout the year. The parts of life we most certainly have no control over include the changing seasons.

Although it is common to see seasonal affective disorder during the fall or winter months, it is possible to experience SAD during the spring or summer.

Psychotic Depression

Psychotic depression is a sub-type of major depressive disorder where someone displays psychotic symptoms. Psychosis refers to hallucinations that can appear in the following ways:

  • auditory (hearing voices, etc.)
  • visual (seeing people or other things that others do not see)
  • olfactory (smelling something that doesn’t exist, etc.)
  • Tactical hallucinations (being able to feel sensations without anything actually causing them)

As originally posted on Medium

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MS in Psychology | Mom of three cats and some house plants | #MentalHealthAdvocate #BeKind

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