Types of Depression

Types of Depression: Bipolar Disorder

Another type of depression is bipolar disorder, also called manic-depressive illness. Not nearly as common as other forms of depressive disorders, bipolar disorder is characterized by cycling mood changes -- severe highs (mania) and lows (depression). Sometimes, the mood switches are dramatic and rapid, but most often they are gradual.
When in the depressed cycle, an individual can have any or all of the symptoms of depression. When in the manic cycle, the individual may be overactive, overtalkative, and have a great deal of energy. Mania often affects thinking, judgment, and social behavior in ways that cause serious problems and embarrassment. For example, the individual in a manic phase may feel elated and full of grand schemes that might range from unwise business decisions to romantic sprees. If left untreated, mania may worsen to a psychotic state.

Types of Depression: Dysthymia

Dysthymia is a less severe type of depression that involves long-term, chronic symptoms that do not disable a person, but do keep him or her from functioning well or feeling good. Many people with dysthymia also experience major depression at some time in their lives.

Other Depression Types

There are several other types of depression, including:
  • Postpartum depression -- A condition that occurs in some women following childbirth. Postpartum depression is when "baby blues" last longer than two weeks, or are more severe than simple mood swings or mild depression.
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) -- A condition in which depression symptoms occur one week prior to menstruation and disappear after the menstrual period ends.
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) -- A pattern of depression that occurs during fall and winter and disappears during spring and summer. It is thought that SAD is due to lack of sunlight. It is more common in northern latitudes.
  • Adjustment disorder with depressed mood -- A type of depression that follows a significant life stress. It usually lasts less than six months and improves when the stress is removed or the person develops coping skills. For this condition, the symptoms of depression are not severe enough to meet the criteria for major depression.
  • Cyclothymic disorder -- A condition that resembles bipolar disorder, but with mood swings that are less severe than those seen with bipolar disorder. The mood swings are not severe enough to meet the criteria for bipolar disorder, nor are the signs of depression severe enough to meet the criteria for major depression.
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