Types of Depression

9 Types of Depression and How to Recognise Them

Did you know there are different types of depression? Depression can be mild or chronic. It can be short-lived or a life-long affliction. Special circumstances, like a new baby or the death of a loved one, can trigger depression.

Some of these types of depression share common symptoms. However, each one also has some fundamental differences.

Here, I’m going to cover them all. I’ll give you the key facts about each one, and how it affects people. In short, I’ll explain what you need to know about the different types of depression.

First up is . . .

1. Major Depressive Disorder

Major depressive disorder (MDD) is the most common type of depression. This type of depression has nothing to do with your circumstances. In fact, there may be no apparent reason for it. You can have a good and happy life when depression first strikes.

Common symptoms of MDD include:

Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) - Symptoms

People with MDD experience the symptoms most of the time. It’s a severe form of depression that can last for months, or even a year or more.

2. Persistent Depression

Persistent depressive disorder is also known as dysthymia, or chronic depression. This type of depression lasts for more than two years. It might not be as severe as MDD, but it can still be debilitating.

Common symptoms of persistent depression are the same as for MDD.

Persistent Depression - Symptoms

With this type of depression, the severity of the symptoms can vary. For example, they can ease up for a while, then get worse again.

3. Bipolar Disorder (Manic Depression)

Bipolar disorder (formerly known as manic depression) causes extreme mood swings. Periods of depression alternate with periods of abnormally elevated mood. This elevated mood is known as mania or hypomania (less severe).

To be diagnosed with bipolar disorder, an episode of mania must last for at least seven days. This can be less if the patient has to be hospitalised.

The depressive phases of bipolar disorder have the same symptoms as MDD.

Bipolar Disorder (Depressive Phase) - Symptoms

Common symptoms of a manic phase include:

Bipolar Disorder (Manic Phase) - Symptoms

It’s possible for symptoms of depression and mania to be present at the same time.

4. MDD with Psychotic Features

MDD with psychotic features is where someone with MDD has periods where they lose touch with reality. This can include both hallucinations and delusions.

MDD with Psychotic Features - Symptoms

Hallucination: when you see, hear, smell, taste, or feel things that aren’t there e.g. hearing voices or seeing people who aren’t there.

Delusion: an unshakeable belief that’s clearly untrue or that doesn’t make sense e.g. believing the earth is flat.

MDD with psychotic features can also cause physical symptoms. These include problems sitting still, or slowed physical movements.

5. Perinatal Depression

Perinatal depression is a collective term that includes both prenatal and postpartum depression. Prenatal depression happens during pregnancy. Postnatal (Postpartum) depression happens within four weeks of childbirth.

Hormonal changes happen during both pregnancy and childbirth. This can trigger changes in the brain that cause mood swings. This type of depression can be as severe as MDD.

Common symptoms of perinatal depression include:

Perinatal Depression - Symptoms

New mothers who lack support, or had depression in the past are most at risk. However, it can happen to anyone.

6. Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is a severe form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). However, the symptoms of PMDD tend to be mostly psychological. The symptoms of PMS are both physical and psychological.

The psychological symptoms of PMDD are more severe than with PMS. The severity of the depression can interfere with the ability to function properly.

Common symptoms of PMDD include:

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) - Symptoms

Like perinatal depression, PMDD is believed to be caused by hormonal changes. The symptoms often start just after ovulation. They start to ease up once a woman has had her period.

7. Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) tends to happen in the autumn and winter months. The cause isn’t fully understood, but it’s thought to be linked to reduced exposure to sunlight. Days are shorter in autumn and winter, and people tend to spend less time outdoors.

Common symptoms of SAD include:

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) - Symptoms

The symptoms of SAD can get worse as winter advances. They can be as severe as MDD. However, the symptoms usually improve as spring approaches.

8. Situational Depression

Situational depression is similar to MDD, and can be just as severe. However, it’s caused by a traumatic event or change in someone’s life. For example:

Situational Depression - Causes

Common symptoms of situational depression include:

Situational Depression - Symptoms

It’s perfectly normal to feel sad and anxious during such events. Situational depression happens when these symptoms get out of proportion and interfere with your ability to function.

Situational depression is a short-term type of depression. The symptoms usually start within three months of the triggering event. And for most people, the depression should run its course within six months.

9. Atypical Depression

Atypical depression is depression that temporarily disappears as a result of positive events. It can happen during an episode of MDD, as well as during persistent depression. This type of depression can also be as serious as MDD.

Despite its name, this type of depression isn’t unusual.

Common symptoms of atypical depression include:

Atypical Depression - Symptoms


Okay, I’ve covered the following 9 types of depression:

  • major depressive disorder
  • persistent depression
  • bipolar disorder
  • MDD with psychotic features
  • perinatal depression
  • premenstrual dysphoric disorder
  • seasonal affective disorder
  • situational depression
  • atypical depression

You should now have a good overview of the different types of depression. If you have any questions or concerns, let me know in the comments section below . . .

Types of Depression - Pinterest

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