Depression isn’t just a bad case of the blues. While all of us can feel sad, angry, discouraged or guilty, these feelings will usually subside. Depression does not. In fact, these emotions take root and affect your personality, your quality of life and self esteem: ‘I’m worthless!’ ‘Everything’s my fault’ and even ‘I wish I could die.’
Depression affects millions of people around the world. It has many causes, and can disguise itself in many forms. Here are some of the types of depression. Do you, or someone you love, show these symptoms?
Major depression is sometimes called unipolar disorder. Signs include an unshakeable sense of sadness, emptiness or anxiousness; crying jags; poor concentration; sluggishness, anti-social behavior, or a general loss in interest in relationships or activities that once brought great pleasure; change in sleep patterns (you either can’t sleep or sleep too much). Depression can also manifest in physical symptoms, such as headaches or stomach aches.
For someone to be officially diagnosed with major depression, you must experience five of those symptoms.
Mild depression is sometimes called dysthymic disorder. The symptoms are the same as major depression, though they are milder and last longer (a minimum of two years). Many people suffer undiagnosed dysthymic disorder for their whole lives, simply thinking that ‘this is just the way I am’ or ‘just the way life is for me.’ In some cases, someone suffering from minor depression may experience an episode of major depression—triggered by a life crisis such as a death in the family, divorce, or financial strain—causing what doctors call ‘double depression.’
Manic depression is also called bipolar disorder. They swing from deep sadness to euphoria, insecurity attacks to an inflated sense of self-esteem. During a ‘manic’ episode they will start big projects, spend a lot of money, stay up for several nights. Then the energy runs out, and they lose interest in all activity, withdraw, and have difficulty getting out of bed. They are easily distracted and show poor judgment.
The symptoms of manic depression usually emerge in the late teens or early twenties, and is sometimes misdiagnosed as ADHD.
Atypical depression is considered a subtype of mild and major depression, since its symptoms tend to overlap with these two. However, people who suffer from atypical depression have what doctors call ‘mood reactivity.’ They can still experience positive feelings (such hope and enthusiasm) when something good happens to them. But these lifts are temporary, and they will ‘crash’ back into depression after a few days. They are also very sensitive to other people, and are very vulnerable to feeling rejected. Atypical depression also tends to be characterized by over eating and oversleeping. Physical symptoms include heaviness in the arms and legs, and intense carb cravings.
This is one of the most common forms of depression. In fact, 40% of the reported cases of depression are categorized as ‘atypical.’
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
This type of depression is common in northern climates with long months of rain, snow or overcast skies. It is typically treated with light therapy.
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