We all go through episodes of deep grief or sadness. These episodes usually fade away in days or weeks, depending on the intensity of the circumstance.
However, when you experience profound sadness that has lasted more than two weeks, and it affects your ability to function, it could be a sign of depression.
Depression affects how we feel, behave, and think and also interferes with our ability to carry on and function appropriately in our daily lives. Unfortunately, when people think about depression, they only categorize it as either regular depression or clinical depression.
However, depression as a mental health condition can be challenging to grasp, because we refer to it as a condition and sometimes as a symptom of a disease. Some of the major types of depression include:
Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)
Commonly referred to as clinical depression. People diagnosed with this type of depression tend to feel depressed most days of the week. They may also have symptoms like weight gain or loss, loss of interest in activities, feelings of agitation or restlessness, trouble sleeping, feeling guilty or worthless, exhaustion and no energy, thoughts of suicide, and difficulty making decisions or trouble concentrating.
Anyone with five or more of these symptoms almost daily for two weeks are diagnosed with major depression. Talking to a therapist can help, and you should find a mental health specialist who will prescribe antidepressants and help you find ways to manage the depression.
Persistent Depressive Disorder
People diagnosed with persistent depressive disorder have depression that lasts two years or longer. This term is used to mainly describe chronic major depression and dysthymia (persistent low-grade depression).
People with this condition experiences symptom like too much or too little sleeping, fatigue or lack of energy, change in appetite, low self-esteem, feel hopeless, or trouble making decisions or concentrating.
This condition may be treated with therapy, medication, or a combination of both where advised.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
People who experience depression, weight gain, and sleepiness during the winter season but are perfectly okay in spring suffer from the seasonal affective disorder (SAD). It is a major depressive disorder with seasonal patterns.
It is believed that SAD triggers disturbance in the normal circadian rhythm of the body. Since light enters through the eyes influencing the circadian rhythm, seasonal variation in the night and day pattern can cause disruption leading to SAD.
Those with SAD can be put on antidepressants or light therapy. Light therapy involves sitting in front of a special bright lightbox for 15-30 minutes daily.
Bipolar Disorder or Manic Depression
Bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic depression, consists of periods of hypomania or mania, where you feel very happy sometimes, then experience episodes of depression.
People with episodes of mania lasting up to seven days or less with hospitalization required are diagnosed with bipolar disorder. They can experience a depressive episode following or before a manic episode.
Some of the symptoms for the depressive episodes include fatigue, lack of energy, sleep problems, feelings of emptiness or sadness, decreased activity, trouble concentrating, suicidal thoughts, and loss of interest in some of the activities you used to enjoy.
The manic phase has symptoms such as reduced sleep, high energy, racing thoughts and speech, irritability, grandiose thinking, increased confidence and self-esteem, racing thoughts and speech, feelings of euphoria, and unusual, self-destructive, and risky behavior.
In severe cases, manic episodes can include delusions and hallucinations. People with hypomania have a less severe form of mania.
Those diagnosed with psychotic depression have symptoms of MDD along with psychotic symptoms like paranoia, delusions, and hallucinations.
Psychotic depression can be treated with a combination of antipsychotic and antidepressant drugs. ECT could also be an option.