Symptoms of depression, now known as major depressive disorder (MDD), include:

  • Loss of interest in usual pleasures and hobbies
  • Consistent sad, low, or “empty” mood
  • Feelings of guiltiness or worthlessness
  • Irritability
  • Difficulties concentrating or remembering
  • Changes in appetite
  • Decreased energy
  • Difficulty sleeping at night or waking in the morning
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

There are multiple characterizations of MDD. A few of these are laid out by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), as follows:

  • Persistent depressive disorder: characterized by a depressive mood that lasts at least two years. Those with persistent depressive disorder experience periods of major depression, occasionally accompanied by times when symptoms are less severe, but they typically last for more than two years.
  • Perinatal depression: major depression experienced by women after the birth of their child. Perinatal depression can also be experienced before the baby is delivered. It includes anxiety, sadness and exhaustion which make it difficult for mothers to care for their babies.
  • Bipolar disorder: also known as manic depression, is different from depression but is included on the NIMH’s list because of the major depressive episodes experienced by those with bipolar. However, symptoms of manic depression are different from regular MDD as those with bipolar also experience periods of extreme highs, or mania.

What is bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorder or manic depression is a disorder that causes extreme mood and energy shifts over varying periods of time. It often makes it difficult for individuals to carry out everyday tasks necessary to live. Bipolar disorder is divided into four categories, each showing similar but different symptoms of manic depression:

  • Bipolar I Disorder: manic episodes lasting at least seven days or severe manic episodes requiring hospitalization. Depressive episodes last longer — around two weeks. Mixed episodes, or a combination of manic and depressive features are possible.
  • Bipolar II Disorder: a series of hypomanic and depressive episodes, but the manic episodes are not as severe as in those with Bipolar I Disorder.
  • Cyclothymic Disorder (Cyclothymia): periods of hypomanic and depressive symptoms lasting at least 2 years, but the episodes are not as severe and do not meet the necessary requirements of Bipolar I or II.
  • Other Specified and Unspecified Bipolar and Related Disorders: symptoms of bipolar disorder that do not fit into any of the categories listed above.

Clearly, manic depression and depression are two completely different disorders, though they share commonalities in the depressive episodes. Medication is often beneficial for individuals experiencing extreme cases of either disorder. Both the symptoms of depression and symptoms of manic depression should be taken seriously and treatment should be undertaken.


“Depression” – National Institute of Mental Health

“Bipolar Disorder” – National Institute of Mental Health


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