It is common to feel some slump once in a while or feel sad about some event that may have happened in your life. In fact, as we discussed in the article “Personal Development: 5 reasons for self-reflection”, suffering can make you grow as a person.
However, we must bear in mind that not all the ways in which discomfort is experienced are the same, and sometimes what we believe is the sadness intrinsic to the “normal” way of living life can be one of several types of depression that exist.
Depression, a multifactorial disorder
If the suffering is persistent, you are sad most of the time and it affects your daily life, you may suffer from depression, a mood disorder that can seriously affect our lives.
It is not always easy to know when this phenomenon has taken its toll on us, since there are several types of depression and therefore the ways in which their presence can be identified vary. Let’s see, what are the characteristics of these types of depression to know, in each case, what we are facing.
Types of depression and their characteristics
Depression is common in these times, and it is common for people to resort to drugs to relieve the pain that is felt with this condition. Prozac (fluoxetine), also called the drug of happiness, is consumed habitually in developed societies.
The treatment with drugs is only advisable in very serious cases, and it is always better to resort to psychological therapy for a correct treatment. It is important to understand that psychologists can also help you overcome depression using their techniques and methods, which do not have to include any psychotropic drugs.
Depression is part of mood disorders and affects our well-being, our social interaction, our appetite and sexual desire. Since there are many types of depression and each with its characteristics, here are the different types of depression:
1. Major depression
Major depression is the most serious type of depression.
It is characterized by the appearance of one or several depressive episodes of at least 2 weeks duration. It usually begins during adolescence or young adulthood. The person suffering from this type of depression, may experience phases of normal mood between depressive phases that can last for months or years.
It is classified into unipolar episodes since there are no phases of mania, and can cause very serious problems for the patient if it is not treated effectively. In fact, suicidal ideation can lead to death if it translates into effective actions to end one’s life.
Symptoms of major depression
These are some of the symptoms of major depression according to the DSM-IV-TR manual:
- Depressed mood most of the day, almost every day (1)
- Loss of interest in previously rewarding activities (2)
- Loss or gain of weight
- Insomnia or hypersomnia
- Low self-esteem
- Problems of concentration and problems to make decisions
- Feelings of guilt
- Suicidal thoughts
- Agitation or psychomotor retardation almost every day
- Fatigue or loss of energy almost every day
According to the DSM-IV, there must be the presence of five (or more) of the above symptoms during a period of 2 weeks, which represent a change from the previous activity; One of the symptoms must be (1) depressed mood or (2) loss of interest or the ability to feel pleasure.
Types of major depression
Within major depression, there are different types of major depression:
- Depression with a single episode: caused by a unique event in life and depression only has that appearance.
- Recurrent depression: Emergence of depressive symptoms in two or more episodes in the patient’s life. The separation between an episode must be at least 2 months without presenting the symptoms.
Within the types of depression, dysthymia is less severe than major depression. It is a type of unipolar depression (does not include manic symptoms) and interferes with the normal functioning and well-being of the individual who suffers it.
The essential feature of this disorder is that the patient feels depressed for most of the day, most days for at least 2 years. It does not necessarily have to experience a strong sadness, but often the most common is that there is a feeling of lack of purpose and motivation, as if nothing mattered.
Many people with dysthymia can also suffer from severe depressive episodes at some point in their lives.
Symptoms of dysthymia
The symptoms of dysthymia are:
- Loss or increase of appetite
- Insomnia or hypersomnia
- Lack of energy or fatigue
- Low self-esteem
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Feelings of hopelessness
3. Manic depression
This type of disorder, also called Bipolar Disorder, is classified as a type of mood disorder. Although we can include it within the types of depression, it combines depressive states with states of mania, that is, there are extreme highs and lows. Bipolar disorder is a serious pathology, and should not be confused with a state of emotional instability.
The treatment is different from that of a major depression, and requires mood stabilizers (such as lithium), as well as professional accompaniment through psychotherapy and attention to the family environment of patients.
Symptoms of manic depression
- Depressive symptoms may include:
- Persistent feelings of sadness
- Feeling of hopelessness or helplessness
- Low self-esteem
- Ineptitude sensation
- Excessive guilt
- Desires to die
- Loss of interest in usual activities or activities previously enjoyed
- Difficulty in relationships
- Sleep disturbance (eg, insomnia, hypersomnia)
- Changes in appetite or weight
- Decrease in energy
- Difficult to focus
- Decreased ability to make decisions
- Suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts
- Frequent physical discomfort (eg, headache, stomachache, fatigue)
- Attempts or threats to escape from home
- Hypersensitivity to failure or rejection
- Irritability, hostility, aggression
- Manic symptoms may include:
- Exaggerated self-esteem
- Less need for rest and sleep
- Greater distraction and irritability
- Excessive participation in pleasant and high-risk activities that can cause painful consequences, for example provocative, destructive or anti-social behavior (sexual promiscuity, reckless driving, alcohol and drug abuse).
- Increased loquacity (for example, increase in speech speed, rapid changes in subject, intolerance of interruptions)
- Feelings of “excitement” or euphoria
- Marked mood changes, for example unusually happy or silly, strangely angry, agitated or aggressive
- Greater sexual desire
- Higher energy level
- Scarce common sense in sensible people
4. Seasonal depressive disorder (SAD)
This depressive state is called Seasonal Depressive Disorder (SAD) and is characterized by occurring during a certain time of year, usually during winter.
Symptoms usually intensify slowly in the late fall and winter months. These symptoms are very similar to those that occur in other types of depression:
- Increased appetite with weight gain
- Increased sleep (little sleep is more common with other forms of depression).
- Less energy and ability to concentrate
- Loss of interest in work and other activities
- Slow movements
- Social isolation
- Sadness and irritability
There is also another variant of the SAD and that some people suffer in summer:
- Lack of appetite
- Irritability and anxiety
5. Psychotic depression
Psychotic depression is a subtype of major depression which occurs when a severe depressive illness includes some type of psychosis. Unlike other types of depression, it is characterized by the prescience of psychotic symptoms: hallucinations and / or delusions that qualitatively alter the way in which reality is perceived.
6. Postpartum depression
Within the types of depression, we can include postpartum depression. It is characterized because it can occur shortly after delivery.
This type of depression can occur up to a year after the woman has given, although it is usual to occur within the first three months after delivery.
Causes of postpartum depression
Some of the causes of postpartum depression are the following:
- Changes in the body level of pregnancy and childbirth (for example, due to hormonal change)
- Changes in labor and social relations
- Having less time and freedom for herself
- Changes the sleep-wake cycle due to birth
- Concerns about her ability to be a good mother