Are There Different Types of Depression?

November 2, 2017

close up of sad woman

It might come as a surprise to some people, but depression isn’t a one-size-fits-all diagnosis. There are different types, which cause different symptoms. Some forms of depression are triggered by life events and others are caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. Some depression cases come and go and others stick around for years. Whatever form it takes, depression is undeniably a struggle for those who have it, and if left untreated, it can be crippling. So, what are the types and what are their symptoms? Here’s a quick guide to help you recognize the different types of depression:

1. Major Depression

This tends to be the type of depression that most people associate with the condition in general. You might have major depression if you experience five or more of the symptoms listed below on most days for two weeks or longer.

· Loss of interest or pleasure in your activities
· Weight loss or gain
· Trouble getting to sleep or feeling sleepy during the day
· Feeling restless and agitated, or very sluggish and slowed down physically or mentally
· Being tired and without energy
· Feeling worthless or guilty
· Trouble concentrating or making decisions · Thoughts of suicide

2. Persistent Depressive Disorder

If you have major depression for two years or longer, you might then have persistent depressive disorder. This type of depression is a newer term used to replace two other forms – dysthymia and chronic major depression. Symptoms of persistent depressive disorder include:

· Change in your appetite (not eating enough or overeating)
· Sleep too much or too little
· Lack of energy, or fatigue
· Low self-esteem
· Trouble concentrating or making decisions
· Feel hopeless

3. Bipolar Disorder

Many people might not think of bipolar disorder as a form of depression, but depression a significant aspect to bipolar disorder. Additionally, bipolar disorder is more common than you might think. About 20% of people who go to their doctor complaining of depression symptoms actually turn out to have bipolar disorder (Goldberg, 2016). Sometimes called manic depression, people with bipolar disorder experience periods of feeling “up” followed by periods of depression. During these periods of depression, symptoms of major depression are usually what show.

4. Seasonal Affective Disorder

As the name suggests, seasonal affective disorder surfaces when the seasons change. When days get shorter and there’s less sunlight, some people will feel the onset of major depression symptoms.

Sunlight triggers a release of serotonin in the brain, which makes us feel good. Shorter days and less sunlight can also cause some people to experience a significant dip in serotonin, triggering depression symptoms. Sometimes light therapy can help curb those symptoms. There are blue light lamps specifically designed to help your brain increase its serotonin production.

5. Psychotic Depression

People with psychotic depression will often experience symptoms of major depression, but those symptoms will be accompanied by other “psychotic” factors as well. Psychotic depression will often include · Hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t there) · Delusions (false beliefs) · Paranoia (wrongly believing that others are trying to harm you)

6. Peripartum (Postpartum) Depression

Many people are familiar with the term “postpartum depression” but it’s also referred to as peripartum depression. This type of depression affects women who have just given birth. Typically caused by rapid fluctuations in hormone levels, women with postpartum depression will experience symptoms of major depression during the weeks and months after giving birth.

7. Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)

All women experience normal hormone changes during the course of their cycle; PMDD is what some women experience as a result of these changing hormones. Hormone fluctuations can cause a dip in serotonin, triggering symptoms of major depression. Women with PMDD will typically experience major depression symptoms at the beginning of menstruation.

8. Other

Sometimes depression symptoms don’t quite fit into any of the categories listed above. Some doctors and psychiatrists recognize situational and atypical as two other forms of depression as well. These two types are harder to generalize and depend on specific factors in someone’s life. If you feel like you might have depression, seek help. Depression is a real, medical condition that can be treated. There are many options for depression treatment, so talk to your doctor about what’s best for you.

If you feel like you might have depression, seek help. Depression is a real, medical condition that can be treated. And if someone you care about is dealing with depression, it can be difficult to know how to help, but it’s important to encourage them to seek help as well. There are many options for depression treatment, it’s just a matter of finding the right one.

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Goldberg, Joseph MD. (2016, October 15). Types of Depression. Retrieved from
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