Atypical Depression is a subtype of Major Depression characterized by mood reactivity being able to experience improved mood in response to positive events. They’ll feel deeply depressed or somewhat hopeful depending on the latest situation they are faced with. Their mood will brighten considerably when dining out with friends or enjoying a good movie. But when they are alone, their mood will slip back into the dark depths of depression.
Atypical depression is a variation of depression that is slightly different from major depression. The sufferer is sometimes able to experience happiness and moments of elation. Symptoms of atypical depression include fatigue, oversleeping, overeating and weight gain. Those who suffer from atypical depression should know that they are not alone and that there is a viable support network and a number of treatment choices to aid in their struggle. Episodes of atypical depression can last for months or a sufferer may live with it forever.
In addition to the core symptoms of depression, atypical depression is defined by the ability to feel better temporarily in response to a positive life event, plus any two of the following criteria: excessive sleep, overeating, a feeling of heaviness in the limbs and a sensitivity to rejection .
Despite its name, “atypical” depression is actually the most common subtype of depression up to 40% of the depressed population may be classified as having atypical depression. In addition, some research suggests that an older class of drugs, monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), may be more effective in treating atypical depression than newer drugs, including tricyclic antidepressants and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
However, research continues to try to define this more clearly. Atypical depression is more common in women than in men. The exact cause of depression isn’t clear. But genetics and environmental factors play a role. If you are concerned that you or someone you know has atypical depression, seek help from a mental health professional.
Causes of Atypical Depression
- Certain medications, including those for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or irregular heartbeat.
- Sleep disturbances.
- Amount of exposure to light.
- Chronic stress (such as from loss, abuse, or deprivation in early childhood).
- Nutritional deficiencies.
- Family history of depression.
- History of abuse (such as mental, physical, or sexual).
- Current or past alcohol or drug abuse
25% of people with addictions have depression.
Symptoms of Atypical Depression
- Female sex was associated with all of the atypical symptoms except rejection sensitivity.
- A duration of illness of greater than 3 months was positively associated with hyperphagia, leaden paralysis, and rejection sensitivity.
- Fatigue and loss of energy.
- Feelings of hopelessness.
- Extreme difficulty concentrating.