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Health and Fitness News

The Many Faces of Depression

Depression presents itself in different ways. Here are a few of the most common types of depression.

Feelings of sadness that affect your daily life and don’t go away may indicate depression. One of the most common mental health disorders, depression affects millions of people around the world. Sometimes caused by life events and other times by a chemical imbalance in the brain, depression affects your feelings, thoughts, and behavior to the point that life becomes hard to face. The good news is that depression is highly treatable through a combination of therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes.

Unlike what many people think, there are different types of depression. Because of this variety, proper diagnosis is needed in order to find the best treatment. Here’s a brief description of a few of the most common types of depression.

Major Depression

Also called clinical depression or major depressive disorder (MDD), major depression is characterized by feelings of sadness, hopelessness, guilt, loss of appetite, lack of energy, sleep troubles, loss of interest in activities, difficulty concentrating, and thoughts of suicide. To be diagnosed with MDD, you must experience at least five of the symptoms for at least two weeks.

Bipolar Disorder

Known also as manic-depressive illness or bipolar depression, someone with this mood disorder will alternate between extreme highs and lows. Elated feelings (or manic episodes) last for a time but always end in feelings of hopelessness, anxiety, irritability, fatigue, insomnia, body aches, and thoughts of suicide.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

During the winter months or when living in parts of the world where the days are short, you’re indoors most of the time without access to much sunlight. As a result, many people develop what’s called seasonal affective disorder (rightly abbreviated SAD) due in part to a lack of sunshine. Some of the most common symptoms include fatigue, excessive sleep, overeating, and feelings of sadness. When spring and summer return, the feelings of depression go away. Light therapy is one form of treatment and can be done at home without negative side effects.

Postpartum Depression

It may start when your bundle is born, but postpartum depression is more than the baby blues. Postpartum depression can affect new moms and new dads in the months following childbirth. Likely caused by changing hormones, a lack of sleep, and new lifestyle adjustments, postpartum depression can set in anytime in the first year after a baby is born. Severe postpartum depression can even elicit thoughts of harming oneself or the baby.

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder

Nearly 1 out of 10 women experience a type of depression each month during the week before the start of their period. Called premenstrual dysphoric disorder, this type of depression brings about feelings of sadness, mood swings, anxiety, fatigue, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and changes in sleep or appetite. Caused by hormonal changes, PMDD is often treated with hormonal treatments, lifestyle changes, and antidepressants.

Psychotic Depression

When severe depression is combined with a loss of touch with reality, psychotic depression may be diagnosed. Someone with this type of depression has symptoms of major depression in addition to hallucinations (thinking he/she hears or sees things that aren’t there), delusions (believing unrealistic things), or paranoia (thinking others are out to harm him/her). Treatment typically includes antipsychotic medication in addition to antidepressants.

Situational Depression

Life can bring you down. Living with a chronic disease, losing a job, going through a divorce, or suffering the loss of a loved one can bring about depression. The stress of the situation causes feelings of sadness and hopelessness that aren’t always healed by time. Like other types of depression, therapy, lifestyle changes, and medication can be effective forms of treatment.


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