Types of the Depression-Related Mood Disorders

Depression is a form of what is known as a mood or affective, disorder, because it is primarily concerned with a change in mood.

Depression is a very complex illness. No-one really knows for certain what causes depression, and everyone's experience of depression is different.

Depressive disorders come in different types, just as is the case with other illnesses such as heart disease. When a psychiatrist makes a diagnosis of a patient's depressive illness, he or she may use a number of terms--such as bipolar, clinical, endogenous, major, melancholic, seasonal affective or unipolar--to describe it. These labels confuse many people who don't understand that they can overlap. People with depressive illness may also receive more than one diagnosis since the illness is often linked with other problems, such as alcoholism or other substance abuses, eating disorders, or anxiety disorders.

Depression can also categorize in the following manner - (1) - Depression that is originating from a bad or disturbing event in your life and (2) - Depression which appears without apparent cause - the most common. The first type of depression is easier for you to tackle because the cause is known. The first step is to deal with the event that triggered your depression. It may have started as a result of a death, an accident, a divorce or any other type of setback. The second type of depression is more difficult to deal with as the source is unknown. It is the most common form of depression.

Getting proper help for different types of depression begins with a proper diagnosis. There are several different diagnoses for depression, mostly determined by the intensity of the symptoms, the duration of the symptoms, and the specific cause of the symptoms, if that is known.

For 20 percent to 35 percent of depressed people, a normal routine is all but impossible. Others have episodes of depression followed by feelings of well-being. Still others have episodes of terrible lows that alternate with inappropriate "highs." Here are some descriptions of the most common forms of depression.

Major Depression : Major depression is probably one of the most common forms of depression. You probably know a handful of people who suffer from it. The sufferer seems to walk around with the weight of the world on his or her shoulders. He or she seems disinterested in becoming involved in regular activities and seems convinced that he or she will always be in this hopeless state. There is a lack of interest in sexual activity and in appetite and a weight loss.

Atypical Depression : Atypical depression is a variation of depression that is slightly different from major depression. The sufferer is sometimes able to experience happiness and moments of elation. Symptoms of atypical depression include fatigue, oversleeping, overeating and weight gain. People who suffer from atypical depression believe that outside events control their mood (i.e. success, attention and praise). Episodes of atypical depression can last for months or a sufferer may live with it forever.

Psychotic Depression: Sufferers of psychotic depression begin to hear and see imaginary things - - sounds, voices and visuals that do not exist. These are referred to as hallucinations, which are generally more common with someone suffering from schizophrenia. The hallucinations are not "positive" like they are with a manic depressive. The sufferer of psychotic depression imagines frightening and negative sounds and images.

Dysthymia: Many people just walk around seeming depressed - - simply sad, blue or melancholic. They have been this way all of their lives. This is dysthymia - - a condition that people are not even aware of but just live with daily. They go through life feeling unimportant, dissatisfied, frightened and simply don't enjoy their lives. Medication is beneficial for this type of depression.

Manic Depression (also known as Bipolar Disorder): Manic depression can be defined as an emotional disorder characterized by changing mood shifts from depression to mania which can sometimes be quite rapid. People who suffer from manic depression have an extremely high rate of suicide.

Cyclothymic Disorder: Cyclothymia is a milder form of manic depression, characterized by hypomania (a mild form of mania) alternating with mild bouts of depression.

Unipolar Depression: This lowered mood may vary slightly throughout the day but the sufferer cannot usually be cheered up, and this is the major distinction between simply being unhappy and being clinically depressed. Unipolar depression is another name for the major depressive disorder. This term is used to distinguish it from depression which occurs within the context of of bipolar disorder, a disorder in which a person experiences alternating periods of depression and mania.

Post Partum Depression: Major depressive episode that occurs after having a baby. Depressive symptoms usually begin within four weeks of giving birth and can vary in intensity and duration.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): A type of depressive disorder which is characterized by episodes of major depression which reoccur at a specific time of the year (e.g. fall, winter). In the past two years, depressive periods occur at least two times without any episodes that occur at a different time.

Anxiety Depression: Not an official depression type (as defined by the DSM). However, anxiety often also occurs with depression. In this case, a depressed individual may also experience anxiety symptoms (e.g. panic attacks) or an anxiety disorder (e.g. PTSD, panic disorder, social phobia, generalized anxiety disorder).

Chronic Depression: Major depressive episode that lasts for at least two years.

Double Depression: Someone who has Dysthymia (chronic mild depression) and also experiences a major depressive episode (more severe depressive symptoms lasting at least two weeks). See above for definitions of these two categories of depression.

Endogenous Depression: Endogenous means from within the body. This type of depression is defined as feeling depressed for no apparent reason.

Situational Depression or Reactive Depression (also known as Adjustment Disorder with Depressed Mood): Depressive symptoms developing in response to a specific stressful situation or event (e.g. job loss, relationship ending). These symptoms occur within 3 months of the stressor and lasts no longer than 6 months after the stressor (or its consequences) has ended. Depression symptoms cause significant distress or impairs usual functioning (e.g. relationships, work, school) and do not meet the criteria for major depressive disorder.

Agitated Depression: Kind of major depressive disorder which is characterized by agitation such as physical and emotional restlessness, irritability and insomnia, which is the opposite of many depressed individuals who have low energy and feel slowed down physically and mentally.

Psychotic Depression: Major depressive episode with psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations (e.g. hearing voices), delusions (false beliefs).

Melancholic Depression (Sub-type of Major Depressive Disorder): Main features of this kind of depression include either a loss of pleasure in virtually all activities or mood does not temporarily improve in response to a positive event.

Catatonic Depression (Sub-type of Major Depressive Disorder): This type of depression is characterized by at least two of the following: Loss of voluntary movement and inability to react to one's environment; Excessive movement (purposeless and not in response to one's environment); Extreme resistance to instructions/suggestions or unable/unwilling to speak; Odd or inappropriate voluntary movements or postures (e.g. repetitive movements, bizarre mannerisms or facial expressions); Involuntarily repeating someone’s words or movements in a meaningless way.

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