The Top 5 Most Prevalent Types of Depression
Depression is a mood disorder that affects the way you think and feel. According to data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention between 2009 and 2012, 7.6% of Americans aged 12 and older were struggling with depression during the two weeks preceding the survey. Some people reported feeling depressed due to external events that had happened to them, which is known as situational depression or exogenous depression. But others were depressed due to chemical changes in their brain. In these cases, the depression originated from inside, not outside, known as endogenous depression.
The world’s leading cause of disability, depression impacts more than 300 million people globally. Depression is a serious but treatable illness characterized by intense feelings of sadness, emptiness, hopelessness, anger or apathy. When a person is clinically depressed, persistent and unrelenting patterns of hopelessness and despair interfere with their ability to function on a daily basis.
Types of Depression
It’s a common misconception that there is only one type of depression, and that either you are depressed or you aren’t. But it is not that simple. While the different types of depressive disorders share some similarities, each has its own distinguishing characteristics.
The five main types of endogenous depression are:
- Dysthymia, or persistent depressive disorder is characterized by experiencing a depressed mood for a minimum of two years.
- Seasonal affective disorder is depression that becomes worse during specific seasons, usually winter.
- Perinatal depression and postpartum depression are forms of severe depression that occur either during pregnancy or just after delivery, and are much more intense than the “baby blues.”
- Bipolar disorder is a condition characterized by mood swings between extremely high (manic) and extremely low (depressive) moods.
- Psychotic depression is severe depression that is accompanied by seeing or hearing things that can’t been seen or heard by others.
Treatment of Endogenous Depression
Since endogenous depression is biologically based, medications that balance the brain chemicals that affect mood can be very effective at improving depressive symptoms. In most cases, your doctor will recommend psychotherapy, or talk therapy, along with medication. In talk therapy, you can work on behaviors and relationships in order to see how your thoughts and actions may contribute to your depression.
Symptoms of depression can be disabling, and if you have symptoms of depression, it’s important to obtain treatment. The CDC reports that close to 90% of people with severe depression have difficulties with work, school or relationships. The good news is that all forms of depression can be treated.
Signs of Depression
Everyone experiences depression in their own unique way. Sadness is a primary symptom, however, depression can manifest as numbness, lifelessness, anger or restlessness. Common depression symptoms include:
- Insomnia or excessive sleeping
- Difficulty concentrating, making decisions or completing basic tasks
- Feeling hopeless, empty or worthless
- Changes in appetite or weight
- Inability to control negative thoughts
- Irritability, aggression, restlessness or anger
- Loss of energy or fatigue
- Reckless behavior (e.g., substance abuse, compulsive gambling or unsafe sex)
- Inability to feel pleasure
- Unexplained aches and pains
- Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities (e.g., hobbies, sex or socializing)
- Thoughts of suicide/death or feeling life isn’t worth living
Depression Risk Factors
The exact cause of depression is unknown, however experts have identified potential causes and risk factors. Genetics, stressful major life events (e.g., loss of a loved one or divorce), physical or chemical imbalances in the brain and childhood trauma (e.g., abuse, neglect or loss of a parent) have been identified as potential contributing factors. While anyone can develop depression, the following factors increase the risk:
- Age: 13 to late 20s
- Gender: Female
- Family history of depression or suicide
- Lack of a social support network
- Recent childbirth
- Serious medical illness (e.g., heart disease or cancer)
- Co-occurring mental health disorder (e.g., anxiety or personality disorder)
- Low self-esteem
- Relationship or marital problems
- Financial struggles
- Drug or alcohol abuse
“Depression in the U.S. Household Population 2009-2012” – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
“Depression” – National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
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