Despite being one of the most common Mental Health Disorders among adults, depression still comes with a lot of misunderstandings and misconceptions. This stems from the fact that there are multiple types of Depressive Disorders that, while similar, have different symptoms and causes. Furthermore, depression is closely linked to many other Mental Health Conditions, such as Anxiety Disorders, Addiction Disorders, and other Mood Disorders.
Every individual has a different experience with depression or Depressive Disorders. It is crucial for Licensed Clinical Psychologists to take these experiences into consideration when analyzing the causes and symptoms of a patient’s specific Depressive Disorder. Understanding the most common types of depression is key to overcoming the challenges and symptoms of this Mental Health Disorder. Learn more about the different Mental Health Conditions that make up Depressive Disorders and see how you can find professional care for your mental health.
Indicators of a Depressive Disorder
Before exploring the different types of depression, it is important to know what defines a Depressive Disorder. There is a difference between developing an actual Depressive Disorder and having a depressed mood following negative experiences. Everyone goes through low periods in life where they feel down. Intense feelings of grief, melancholy, or burnout can accompany negative experiences, big life changes, and other stressful periods of life. However, these feelings are temporary and go away on their own.
Depressive Disorders, on the other hand, are much more severe. Feeling sad, low, or depressed becomes a constant in your life and starts to affect your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Depressive Disorders do not go away on their own. Without treatment, they hinder your ability to function on a daily basis, pose a risk to your physical health, and lower your overall quality of life.
Major Depressive Disorder
Major Depressive Disorder—also known as Major Depression, Classic Depression, or Unipolar Depression—is one of the most commonly discussed Depressive Disorders. In fact, many people use the term synonymously with Clinical Depression. When most people think of a Depressive Disorder, they picture the common symptoms of Major Depressive Disorder: severely depressed mood, loss of interest in activities or socializing, sleep and appetite problems, and more.
Like many types of Depressive Disorders, Major Depressive Disorder affects both your mental and physical health. Individuals experience intense feelings of sadness, worthlessness, guilt, or emotional numbness. Meanwhile, physical symptoms can include weight loss or gain, fatigue and insomnia, a decrease in energy, and headaches, body aches, or other pains.
The biggest thing that sets Major Depressive Disorder apart is the severity of its symptoms. Though Major Depressive episodes might not last as long as others, they can be so intense that they completely disrupt daily life. A lack of energy combined with difficulty concentrating and all-consuming feelings of sadness or anxiety can sap your motivation to perform even the simplest tasks. Individuals with Major Depressive Disorder might find it hard to show up physically or mentally to work, maintain personal relationships, and take care of themselves and their property during a depressive episode.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a variant of Major Depressive Disorder that occurs during a specific season. You may have heard it referred to as seasonal depression or an informal term such as the winter blues in the past. SAD has a lot of overlap with other Depressive Disorders. Symptoms include a persistently depressed mood, low energy, loss of interest in things you once enjoyed, and changes in weight, appetite, or sleeping habits. SAD can also cause you to withdraw from social circles and isolate yourself from loved ones.
SAD is most common in fall and especially winter. There are a few reasons for this, including seasonal changes in weather and sunlight exposure. Shorter days mean less sunlight, which affects your serotonin production and disrupts your circadian rhythm. Meanwhile, cold and miserable weather can lead to feelings of gloom, boredom, or listlessness.
Persistent Depressive Disorder
Persistent Depressive Disorder is a form of chronic depression that shares many symptoms with other Depressive Disorders. This includes feelings of sadness, guilt, and hopelessness, fatigue, changes in appetite, disrupted sleep habits, difficulty concentrating, irritability, and a loss of interest or inability to take pleasure in things you once enjoyed.
While these symptoms tend to be less severe than those of Major Depressive Disorder and other conditions, they last for much longer. Persistent Depressive episodes can last for two years or more. Long-term changes to your appetite or sleep schedule pose a serious risk to your physical health. Meanwhile, a persistent lack of energy or motivation makes it difficult to perform well at work and maintain social connections. As a result, people with Persistent Depressive Disorder can experience significant disruption to their professional, social, and personal lives.
Bringing a baby into the world is a stressful and exhausting experience on its own. Many women experience feelings of anxiety and worry, mood swings, difficulty sleeping, and other symptoms because of the hormonal shift that occurs after pregnancy. However, when these symptoms become more severe and last longer than a couple of weeks, they could be an indication of Postpartum Depression. In addition to other general symptoms of Depressive Disorders, signs of Postpartum Depression can include:
- Excessive or reoccurring crying spells
- Feeling overwhelmed or struggling to make decisions
- Feelings of inadequacy or feeling like you are a bad mother
- Difficulty bonding with your baby
- Intrusive thoughts of hurting yourself or the baby
It is not always easy to separate symptoms of Postpartum Depression from the general worries or stressors that come with being a new parent. But if these symptoms start to seriously impact daily life or last for longer than a period of two weeks, you should seek help from a mental health professional.
Treatment for Depressive Disorders
Seeking help for your Depressive Disorder is not easy. Symptoms like a loss of energy and feelings of shame or guilt can make it difficult to reach out when you need support. Mental health stigma also creates barriers to care and can prevent someone from taking their Mental Health Disorder seriously. There is hope, though. Overcoming these challenges and working with a Licensed Clinical Psychologist provides you with the care you need to understand and treat your Depressive Disorder.
Dr. Blair has experience using evidence-based therapies to treat the most common types of depression. If you are looking for a depression therapist in Newport Beach, turn to the friendly faces at Blair Wellness Group. With compassionate care and a personalized treatment plan, you can face your Depressive Disorder and take the first step toward better mental and emotional health.