The 3 Most Common Types of Depression
Know the Symptoms and Severity
By October 7, 2011 8,425 1 2
Like many illnesses, depression comes in many forms. Below, we cover three of the most common types of depressive orders. Within each of these types, there are variations on severity, symptoms and duration.
Depression is also rated by your diagnosing physician or mental health professional in terms of its severity — mild, moderate, or severe. Severe depression is the most serious type.
Major Depressive Disorder
Major depressive disorder is the most common form of depression. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, major depressive disorder – also known as clinical depression – is distinguished by a combination of symptoms that interfere with a person’s ability to sleep, work, study, eat and enjoy pleasurable activities. This form of depression often makes it hard for a person to do much of anything or get motivated.
A depressive episode may occur only once in a person’s life, but more commonly it occurs on several occasions over a lifetime. The chronic form of major depression might require indefinite treatment.
To be diagnosed with major depression, one of your symptoms must be either depressed mood or loss of interest. The symptoms must also be present for most of the day every day, or nearly every day, for at least two weeks. To see a full list of depression symptoms, visit the NIMH website.
This type of depression is characterized by long lasting symptoms that, while not disabling like major depression, do limit one’s ability to function well or feel good. Also called chronic depression, symptoms of dysthymia may persist for two years or more.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 10.9 million Americans aged 18 and older are affected by dysthymia. It’s not uncommon for people with dysthymia to also suffer bouts of major depressive disorder at some time. Examples of some symptoms include changes in eating habits and sleep patterns, low energy, low self-esteem, hopelessness or difficulty making decisions.
This type of depressive illness is also called manic depressive illness. It involves vast mood shifts, swinging from extreme highs (elation or mania) to deep lows (clinical depression). Often, there are balanced periods of normal mood in between. The swings can happen suddenly, within minutes or hours, or gradually.
The severity of bipolar symptoms varies between individuals from relatively few effects to an inability to work and live a normal life. Bipolar disorder has a high rate of recurrence if untreated. Visit the NIMH website for a full list of bipolar symptoms.
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