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Types of Depression, Symptoms, and Depression Treatment

Clinically Reviewed

This page has been clinically reviewed by David Szarka, MA, LCADC.

Depression is a common, but serious mental health disorder that affects how a person feels, thinks, and behaves. It causes persistent feelings of sadness and loss of interest in activities that once were enjoyable. It can also lead to physical and emotional issues such as:

  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Changes in appetite
  • Concentration problems

Depression can vary from mild to severe and requires professional treatment to recover. People with depression often experience intense emotions of hopelessness, guilt, or worthlessness, which can interfere with daily life.

There is no single cause of depression. Research on the topic points to a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors. Finding treatment for a depressive disorder starts with a consultation with the mental and behavioral health treatment team at Footprints to Recovery.

Types of Depression

7 Types of Depression Disorders

There isn’t one single type of depression felt by everyone. The disorders affect men and women differently. They can come and go depending on the time of year. What they do have in common is a long list of symptoms that can make living everyday life a challenge.

When it comes to identifying the different types of depression disorders, consulting with a mental and behavioral health specialist can help. A mental health treatment center like Footprints to Recovery uses the latest evidence-based diagnostic and treatment methods to identify and treat depression that’s undermining your quality of life.

Here are some of the different types of depression, their signs and symptoms, and how they differ from one another.

1. General Depression

Also known as major depression disorder (MDD) or clinical depression, general depression is a mental health condition where you experience constant feelings of sadness, a loss of interest or pleasure in activities, and a range of physical and emotional symptoms that significantly impact daily functioning for at least two weeks. Clinical depression is diagnosed by mental healthcare professionals following an evaluation. This evaluation considers:

  • Symptoms
  • Lifestyle
  • Past trauma
  • Any substances used

The signs and symptoms of clinical depression vary from person to person, but they tend to involve a persistent and pervasive low mood or loss of interest in activities. Here are common signs and symptoms of major depressive disorder:

  • Persistent sadness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Changes in sleeping patterns
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Psychomotor changes
  • Recurrent thoughts of death

Physical Symptoms of Depression

Since depression is a mental disorder, many don’t realize there are physical symptoms as well. Some of the most common physical signs and symptoms of depression include:

  • Headaches
  • Digestive problems
  • Muscle pain
  • General discomfort

Clinical depression treatment involves a combination of approaches, including talk therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes. The most effective treatment plan depends on the individual’s specific needs and the severity of their depression.

2. Seasonal Affective Depression (SAD)

Seasonal affective disorder, also known as seasonal depression or winter depression, is a type of depressive disorder that follows a seasonal pattern. It’s characterized by the onset of depressive symptoms during specific seasons, most commonly in the fall or winter. Most people with SAD find their symptoms subside in spring or summer when the sun returns for longer portions of the day.

SAD is believed to be related to changes in sunlight exposure and the body’s internal clock. The decrease in sunlight during the winter affects the body’s internal clock (circadian rhythm) and disrupts the balance of certain chemicals in the brain, such as serotonin, which can impact mood and well-being.

The signs and symptoms of SAD are like general depression:

  • Sour mood
  • Loss of interest in things
  • Lethargy
  • Weight gain
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Suicidal thoughts

Only a professional mental and behavioral health treatment center can help accurately diagnose seasonal affective disorder among the other depressive disorders that have similar symptoms.

Treatments for SAD include:

  • Exposure to artificial light, known as light therapy
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Anti-depressant medication (in some cases)

3. Postpartum Depression (PPD)

PPD is a type of depression that occurs after childbirth. It is characterized by intense feelings of sadness, anxiety, and exhaustion that can significantly interfere with a mother’s ability to care for herself and her baby. Postpartum depression can affect both first-time mothers and women who have previously given birth. Symptoms begin within the first few weeks after childbirth, although they can develop anytime within the first year. The duration can vary, but PPD commonly lasts for several months if left untreated.

Symptoms of postpartum depression are similar to those of major depressive disorder, including persistent feelings of:

  • Sadness, hopelessness, or emptiness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities
  • Changes in appetite and sleep patterns
  • Irritability
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Difficulty bonding with the baby
  • Thoughts of self-harm or harming the baby
  • Reduced energy or motivation

Postpartum depression can arise from a combination of physical, hormonal, emotional, and social factors like:

  • Hormonal changes
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Physical recovery from childbirth
  • A personal or family history of depression
  • Stress
  • Lack of social support
  • Adjusting to a new parental role

PPD can impact the wellness of both a mother and her baby. It can interfere with maternal-infant bonding, breastfeeding, and the overall caregiving relationship. Untreated postpartum depression in the mother can affect her baby’s emotional, cognitive, and social development.

Postpartum depression is treatable. Early intervention is crucial for recovery. Treatment options may include therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy or interpersonal therapy, support groups, lifestyle changes, and anti-depression medication. By speaking with the team at Footprints to Recovery, you can get a better idea of which treatment approach is best for you.

4. Bipolar Depression

Bipolar depression is a mental health condition with alternating episodes of depression and mania or hypomania. It’s a chronic and often lifelong disorder that affects your mood, energy levels, and ability to function. There are different categories of bipolar disorders. They include bipolar I disorder, bipolar II disorder, and cyclothymic disorder.

Bipolar I Disorder

Individuals with bipolar I disorder experience manic episodes that can last for at least seven days. Mania is characterized by:

  • Elevated or irritable mood
  • Increased energy or activity levels
  • Racing thoughts
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Inflated self-esteem or grandiosity
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Decreased ability to recognize the consequences of your actions

Bipolar II Disorder

Bipolar II disorder is characterized by recurrent depressive episodes and hypomanic episodes. Hypomania is similar to mania, but it’s less intense and it lasts a minimum of four days.

Cyclothymic Disorder

Cyclothymic disorder involves numerous periods of hypomanic and depressive symptoms that don’t meet the criteria for a full manic or major depressive episode. The mood swings in cyclothymic disorder are less severe than those in bipolar I and II disorders, but they are chronic and persist over an extended period. This period is at least two years in adults or one year in children and adolescents.

During depressive episodes, individuals experience persistent feelings of:

  • Sadness
  • Hopelessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure
  • Changes in appetite and sleep patterns
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Manic episodes involve:

  • An elevated or irritable mood
  • Increased energy or activity levels
  • Racing thoughts
  • Reduced need for sleep
  • Inflated self-esteem or grandiosity
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Decreased ability to recognize the consequences of your actions

The frequency, duration, and intensity of these episodes vary from person to person. Some people experience more frequent episodes. Others have long periods of stability between episodes.

5. Situational Depression

Situational depression, also known as adjustment disorder with depressed mood, is a type of depressive reaction that occurs in response to a stressful or challenging life event or situation. It is a relatively short-term condition that typically arises within three months of the triggering event. It resolves once you adapt to or cope with the situation.

Some examples of triggers that can cause situational depression include:

  • Death of a family member or friend
  • Breaking up with a significant other
  • Financial problems
  • Unemployment
  • Stress at school or work
  • A significant life change like moving or an unexpected illness

6. Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)

PMDD is a severe and disabling form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) that affects some women during their menstrual cycle. It is characterized by significant emotional and physical symptoms that occur in the week or two before menstruation. The symptoms improve or disappear with the start of menstruation. PMDD is a distinct diagnosis listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

PMDD involves a cluster of emotional and physical symptoms that significantly impact a woman’s functioning and quality of life including:

  • Severe mood swings
  • Feelings of sadness or hopelessness
  • Irritability
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • A sense of being overwhelmed

Physical symptoms can include:

  • Breast tenderness
  • Bloating
  • Fatigue
  • Changes in appetite
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Joint or muscle pain

It’s important to note that PMDD symptoms are far more debilitating than PMS symptoms. They can make things like going to work or school or fulfilling other obligations in life far more difficult, if not impossible.

7. Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD)

PDD, also known as dysthymia, is a chronic form of depression that lasts for two years or more. It’s characterized by a persistent depressed mood and a lack of interest or pleasure in daily activities. PDD is different from major depressive disorder (MDD) in terms of the duration and severity of symptoms. Those with PDD feel their symptoms daily.

Symptoms of PDD are similar to MDD symptoms but tend to be less severe. They include:

  • Feelings of sadness
  • Hopelessness
  • Emptiness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities
  • Changes in appetite and sleep patterns
  • Low energy or fatigue
  • Poor concentration or difficulty making decisions
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt
  • Recurring thoughts of death or suicide

The Link Between Depression and Addiction

It’s common for those who suffer from mental health issues to turn to substance abuse as a form of self-medication. Research on the subject has shown that close to 33% of those with a major depressive disorder also suffer from a substance abuse disorder. One doesn’t necessarily cause the other. Mental health issues and substance abuse can both arise from someone’s genetics or lifestyle. They can develop at the same time either on their own or as a result of one another.

The following list of substances are most often abused by people with depressive disorders:

Treatment for Depressive Disorders

Depression can’t be treated when a substance use disorder is also present. It’s also unwise to treat a problem with addiction if depression is still present. Dual diagnosis treatment addresses both issues at the same time, incorporating evidence-based and holistic therapies. Footprints to Recovery takes an integrated approach. That means a team of mental health and addiction professionals is on your side during treatment. The team assists with all aspects of recovery, from detox (if necessary) to aftercare so you can focus your energy on turning your life around.

Talk Therapy

Counseling is an important part of the recovery process. Talk therapy, or psychotherapy, is an effective treatment option for depression. It involves working with a trained mental health professional individually or in groups to explore and address the underlying causes of depression. The goal is to develop coping strategies and improve overall mental well-being.

Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)

IPT focuses on improving interpersonal relationships and social functioning. It explores how difficulties in relationships, grief, or life transitions contribute to depressive symptoms. By addressing these interpersonal issues, IPT aims to alleviate depressive symptoms and improve overall social support and functioning.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioral therapy is used to treat many types of depression and substance abuse disorders. It addresses your negative beliefs and attitudes about yourself and the world. The goal is to restructure these thoughts into a positive source of inspiration. CBT focuses on identifying negative thought patterns and behaviors that contribute to depression and replacing them with healthier, more adaptive thoughts and behaviors. CBT helps you develop practical skills to challenge negative thinking, manage stress, and make positive changes in your life.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

DBT can be an effective treatment for depression. While originally developed for borderline personality disorder, DBT is now applied to various mental health conditions, including depression. It teaches you the skills to identify and regulate your emotions. It helps you understand your emotional experiences and develop strategies to manage intense or overwhelming emotions. This helps improve emotional resilience. By learning to navigate and regulate your emotions, you can experience improved mood and a greater sense of well-being.

Medication-Assisted Treatment

In some cases, a treatment plan for depression may include the use of medications. There are several options when it comes to medication for depression, so speaking with a treatment professional is always advised before starting down the road to recovery on your own. Some common antidepressant medications include:

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like Lexapro, Celexa, and Zoloft
  • Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) like Effexor, Pristiq, and Cymbalta
  • Atypical antidepressants like Wellbutrin, Desyrel, and Remeron
  • Tricyclic antidepressants like Elavil, Asendin, and Norpramin
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) like Marplan, Nardil, and Emsam

Find Joy in Life Again

A consultation with the team at Footprints to Recovery can offer more information about what recovery from a depressive disorder is like at our facility. Our team will listen to you, identify their needs, and create a recovery plan that offers a real chance at turning things around. Insurance verification can ensure treatment will be covered by your policy. You can also discuss options for self-pay when you consult with Footprints to Recovery. A brighter future starts now!

Questions about treatment options?

Our admissions team is available 24/7 to listen to your story and help you get started with the next steps.