The two most commonly occurring forms of depression are major depression and persistent depressive disorder. Other types of depression may develop under specific circumstances, such as SAD and postpartum depression. In some cases, depression may also be a symptom or result of another medical condition, including Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Research suggests that a combination of biological, genetic, environmental, and psychological factors may all play a part in depression.
People who experience symptoms of depression during most of the day on almost every day for at least two weeks that impacts their ability to sleep, eat, work, study, and/or enjoy life may be diagnosed with major depression. A depressive episode may occur only once in an individual’s life, but it is more common for a person to experience several periods of this type of depression.
Persistent Depressive Disorder
People who experience symptoms of depression that last for two years or more may suffer from persistent depressive disorder, or dysthymia. A person suffering from this form of depression may have periods of major depression along with episodes where they experience less severe symptoms.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
People with SAD experience a kind of depression that comes and goes cyclically with the change of seasons, usually initiating in the late fall and early winter and then going away during the spring and summer months.
A person with a major depression or bipolar disorder that is accompanied by some form of psychosis may be diagnosed with psychotic depression. These people experience severe depression in addition to some kind of psychosis. Examples of psychosis include paranoia, a persecution complex, delusions, or hallucinations.
Women may be diagnosed with perinatal or postpartum depression if they experience a major depression during pregnancy or soon after delivery. This is a different, more severe condition than the normal “baby blues” that are caused by fluctuating hormones and lack of sleep.
Depression can also be one phase of bipolar disorder, previously known as manic-depression. A person with bipolar disorder will also experiences extreme highs that make them feel euphoric and/or irritable. These moods are called mania, while the less severe form is called hypomania.
Research into the causes and risk factors for developing all types of depression is ongoing. Regardless of the type, if you suspect that you or a loved one may be suffering from depression, it’s important to seek help. See your doctor for a diagnosis and treatment plan as soon as possible. And if you’re feeling overwhelmed by daily tasks or caretaking responsibilities, Specialty Care Services can help.