Depression is complex. It can linger and grow for months or even years before being detected . Studies have shown that millions of Americans will suffer some form of depressive disorder this year. Unfortunately fewer than 1/3 of these people will look for help. Often the sufferers don’t even know they’re sick.
Every day stress is common in the modern world. It’s more difficult to navigate the obstacles in life. Many families are surviving week to week. Trouble in the economy has made it more difficult than ever to keep a good job. Stress leads to depressive feelings. There are many different types of depression. Some of the labels mean the same thing. There is mental, medical, clinical and manic depressive disorder. There is also the fact that it gets severe enough to allude to the final stages of the disease. Depressive disorder can result from a variety of causes. One of these is simple biology, brain chemistry issues. DNA also carries it. Those with family histories of the disorder are at risk.
Psychology Information Online provides information on the following depressive disorders:
- Major Depression – This is the most serious type, in terms of number of symptoms and severity of symptoms, but there are significant individual differences in the symptoms and severity. You do not need to feel suicidal to have a major case, and you do not need to have a history of hospitalizations either, although both of these factors are present in some people with major depressive symptoms.
- Persistent Depressive Disorder – This refers to a low to moderate level that persists for at least two years, and often longer. While the symptoms are not as severe as the major version, they are more enduring and resistant to treatment. Some people with dysthymia develop a major case at some time during the course of their disorder.
- Unspecified – This category is used to help researchers who are studying other specific types, and do not want their data confounded with marginal diagnoses. It includes people with a serious case, but not quite severe enough to have a diagnosis of a major form. It also includes people with chronic, moderate, which has not been present long enough for a diagnosis of a Dysthymic disorder. (You get the idea!)
- Adjustment Disorder– This category describes that which occurs in response to a major life stressor or crisis.
- Bipolar – This type includes both high and low mood swings, as well as a variety of other significant symptoms not present in other forms of the disease.
Other Types of Depressive Categories:
- Post Partum – Major depressive episode that occurs after having a baby. Depressive symptoms usually begin within four weeks of giving birth and can vary in intensity and duration.
- Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) – A type of depressive disorder which is characterized by episodes of a major case which reoccur at a specific time of the year (e.g. fall, winter). In the past two years, depressive periods occur at least two times without any episodes that occur at a different time.
- Anxiety – While this is not an official type (as defined by the DSM), anxiety often also occurs with depression. In this case, a depressed individual may also experience anxiety symptoms (e.g. panic attacks) or an anxiety disorder (e.g. PTSD, panic disorder, social phobia, generalized anxiety disorder).
- Chronic – Major depressive episode that lasts for at least two years.
- Double – Someone who has Dysthymia (chronic mild) and also experiences a major depressive episode (more severe depressive symptoms lasting at least two weeks).
- Endogenous – Endogenous means from within the body. This type is defined as feeling depressed for no apparent reason.
- Situational or Reactive (also known as Adjustment Disorder with Depressed Mood) – Depressive symptoms developing in response to a specific stressful situation or event (e.g. job loss, relationship ending). These symptoms occur within 3 months of the stressor and lasts no longer than 6 months after the stressor (or its consequences) has ended. Depression symptoms cause significant distress or impairs usual functioning (e.g. relationships, work, school) and do not meet the criteria for major depressive disorder.
- Agitated – Kind of major depressive disorder which is characterized by agitation such as physical and emotional restlessness, irritability and insomnia, which is the opposite of many depressed individuals who have low energy and feel slowed down physically and mentally.
- Psychotic – Major depressive episode with psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations (e.g. hearing voices), delusions (false beliefs).
- Atypical (Sub-type of Major or Dysthymia) – Characterized by a temporary improvement in mood in reaction to positive events and two (or more) of the following:
- significant weight gain or increase in appetite
- over sleeping
- heavy feeling in arms or legs
- long standing pattern of sensitivity to rejection
- Melancholic (Sub-type of Major Depressive Disorder) – Main features of this kind of depression include either a loss of pleasure in virtually all activities or mood does not temporarily improve in response to a positive event. Also, three (or more) of the following are present:
- Depressed mood that has a distinct quality (e.g. different from feeling depressed when grieving)
- Depressive feeling is consistently worse in the morning
- Waking up earlier than usual (at last 2 hours)
- Noticeable excessive movement or slowing down
- Significant decrease in appetite or weight loss
- Feeling excessive or inappropriate guilt
- Catatonic (Sub-type of Major Depressive Disorder) – This type is characterized by at least two of the following:
- Loss of voluntary movement and inability to react to one’s environment
- Excessive movement (purposeless and not in response to one’s environment)
- Extreme resistance to instructions/suggestions or unable/unwilling to speak
- Odd or inappropriate voluntary movements or postures (e.g. repetitive movements, bizarre mannerisms or facial expressions)
- Involuntarily repeating someone’s words or movements in a meaningless way Treatment will differ depending on the type of depression based on its severity and various symptoms.
Depending on the type of Depression, the focus of therapy may vary or different antidepressants may be prescribed targeting certain symptoms. Common factors can lead to different types. Substance abuse can lead to depressive disorder. Both alcoholics and drug abusers can contract it. Mental disorder historically has a stigma associated with it. Prior to mental illness being recognized as a disease it was considered by many to be a personal defect. As a result treatment wasn’t applied in a way that could help the patient. Negative effects persist through all the stages of depression. Therefore treatment requires early detection.
Major depressive disorder is one of the most common forms. Odds are, you probably know a handful of people who suffer from it. The sufferer seems to walk around with the weight of the world on his or her shoulders. He or she seems disinterested in becoming involved in regular activities and seems convinced that he or she will always be in this hopeless state. There is a lack of interest in sexual activity and in appetite and a weight loss.
Atypical: is a variation that is slightly different from it’s major variety. The sufferer is sometimes able to experience happiness and moments of elation. Symptoms of the atypical type include fatigue, oversleeping, overeating and weight gain. People who suffer from it believe that outside events control their mood (i.e. success, attention and praise). Episodes can last for months or a sufferer may live with it forever.
Psychotic: sufferers begin to hear and see imaginary things – – sounds, voices and visuals that do not exist. These are referred to as hallucinations, which are generally more common with someone suffering from schizophrenia. The hallucinations are not “positive” like they are with a manic depressive. The sufferer imagines frightening and negative sounds and images.
Dysthymia: Many people just walk around seeming depressed – simply sad, blue or melancholic. They have been this way all of their lives. This is dysthymia – a condition that people are not even aware of but just live with daily. They go through life feeling unimportant, dissatisfied, frightened and simply don’t enjoy their lives. Medication is beneficial for this type.
Manic: can be defined as an emotional disorder characterized by changing mood shifts can sometimes be quite rapid. People who suffer from manic depressive disorder have an extremely high rate of suicide.
Seasonal: which medical professionals call seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is something that occurs only at a certain time of the year, usually winter. It is sometimes called “winter blues.” Although it is predictable, it can be very severe.
Cyclothymic Disorder: A milder yet more enduring type of bipolar disorder. A person’s mood alternates between a less severe mania (known as hypomania) and a less severe case.
Mood Disorder due to a General Medical Condition: caused or precipitated by a known or unknown physical medical condition such as hypothyroidism.)
Substance Induced Mood Disorder: may be caused or precipitated by the use or abuse of substances such as drugs, alcohol, medications, or toxins.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): This condition affects people during specific times or seasons of the year. During the winter months individuals feel depressed and lethargic, but during other months their moods may be normal.
Postpartum: A rare form occurring in women within approximately one week to six months after giving birth to a child.
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder: This is an uncommon type of depressive disorder affecting a small percentage of menstruating women. It is a cyclical condition in which women may feel depressed and irritable for one or two weeks before their menstrual period each month.
What exactly is a depressive disorder?
Depressive disorders have been with mankind since the beginning of recorded history. In the Bible, King David, as well as Job, suffered from this affliction. Hippocrates referred to it as melancholia, which literally means black bile. Black bile, along with blood, phlegm, and yellow bile were the four humors (fluids) that described the basic medical physiology theory of that time. It is also referred to as clinical depression, has been portrayed in literature and the arts for hundreds of years, but what do we mean today when we refer to a depressive disorder? In the 19th century, it was seen as an inherited weakness of temperament. In the first half of the 20th century, Freud linked the development of depressive feelings to guilt and conflict. John Cheever, the author and a modern sufferer of depressive disorder, wrote of conflict and experiences with his parents as influencing his development of the disease.
The symptoms that help a doctor identify the disorder include:
- constant feelings of sadness, irritability, or tension
- decreased interest or pleasure in usual activities or hobbies
- loss of energy, feeling tired despite lack of activity
- a change in appetite, with significant weight loss or weight gain
- a change in sleeping patterns, such as difficulty sleeping, early morning awakening, or sleeping too much
- restlessness or feeling slowed down
- decreased ability to make decisions or concentrate
- feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, or guilt
- thoughts of suicide or death
If you are experiencing any or several of these symptoms, you should talk to your doctor about whether you are suffering from Depression. Depression can also cause a variety of other medical issues from chronic illnesses such as heart disease to sexual issues, and sleep problems.
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Once the disease has progressed to a severe enough level that the illness must be treated. The calls for assistance weren’t answered and now the chance to solve the problem is fading. Medications and therapy combine for a working treatment. Also available are support groups that can help. You can also find many natural herbal medications that have been proven effective in clinical studies. The good news is that very effective treatments are available to help those who are depressed. However, only about one-third of those who are depressed actually receive treatment. This is unfortunate since upwards of 80-90% of those who do seek treatment can feel better within just a few weeks. Some believe that depression is the result of a personal weakness or character flaw. This is simply not true. Depression is a medical condition just like diabetes, heart disease, or any other medical condition.
Help is out there no matter what type of Depression is affecting someone. Seek medical help if you or anyone you know shows signs.
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