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TYPES OF DEPRESSION

DO ANY OF THESE DESCRIBE YOU?

TYPES OF DEPRESSION

Depression strikes in several forms. When a psychiatrist makes a diagnosis of a patient's depressive illness, he or she may use a number of terms--such as bipolar, clinical, endogenous, major, melancholic, seasonal affective or unipolar--to describe it. These labels confuse many people who don't understand that they can overlap. People with depressive illness may also receive more than one diagnosis since the illness is often linked with other problems, such as alcoholism or other substance abuses, eating disorders, or anxiety disorders.

  MAJOR DEPRESSION

When you hear the term clinical depression, it merely means the depression is severe enough to require treatment. When a person is badly depressed during a single severe period, he or she can be said to have had an episode of clinical depression. More severe symptoms mark the period as an episode of major depression (also known as unipolar depression and major depressive disorder). Many mental health experts say the key to judging this gradation lies in the amount of change a person undergoes in his or her normal patterns along with a loss of interest and a lack of pleasure in them. An almost-daily tennis player, for instance, who began to break her court dates frequently, or a regular bridge player who lost interest in weekly games, might be edging into an episode of major depression. The more severe the depression, the more it is likely to affect its sufferer's      

Dysthymia

While many people have single or infrequent episodes of severe depression, some suffer with recurrent or long-lasting depression. For these people, who almost always seem to have symptoms of a mild form of the illness, the diagnosis is dysthymia or minor depression. A major depressive episode can hit the dysthymic person, too, causing double depression, a condition that demands careful treatment and close follow-up.

Bipolar Depression

In bipolar depression (also known as bipolar disorder, manic-depression, and manic-depressive illness), the lows alternate with terrible highs in an often bewildering oscillation. Scientists now believe this up-and-down mood rollercoaster is the product of an imbalance in the brain chemistry which can be treated successfully about 80 percent of the time with balance-restoring medications.

     

Atypical Depression

This type of depression is very common in women. The feeling of depression will get better for a period and then worsen again. The symptoms of oversleeping, overeating, hypersensitivity to rejection (especially romantic rejection), and intermittent panic attacks, are characteristic of atypical depression. This type of depression usually begins in adolescence and, if untreated, will often continue throughout life.

        

Psychotic Depression

Approximately 15 percent of people who suffer from major depression also show symptoms of psychotic depression. These symptoms include hearing voices inside one’s head (auditory hallucinations), having visions of people or things that are not actually there (visual hallucinations), and delusional thinking. People who suffer from this extreme form of major depression are in need of immediate attention. Because they cannot rationally judge the consequences of their actions, they are in serious danger of killing themselves.

 
M.N. Raentree with graphics from the public domain.  All rights reserved.