4 Common Types of Depression

Depression is one of the most debilitating mental health issues a person can experience, yet it often goes untreated and undiagnosed. Overall, more than 7% of Americans report regularly feeling depressed; among younger people, that rate climbs to almost 13%.

Recent data shows the number of Americans suffering from depression is increasing, with the biggest rise among teens, young adults, and seniors. The analysis found depression to be common among both the lowest and highest income groups — it can affect anyone, regardless of age, lifestyle, or experiences.

At Flux Psychology, Andrea Liner, PsyD, helps patients of all ages and walks of life from throughout the Denver, Colorado, area learn effective, proactive techniques for managing depression. Each treatment plan is customized and completely confidential. In this blog, we examine the four most common types of depression.

Major depressive disorder (MDD)

Major depressive disorder is probably the best known type of depression. People with MDD experience ongoing feelings of sadness and low mood, accompanied by a lack of interest in their daily activities, including things they once found pleasurable. 

Many people with major depressive disorder have problems with sleep, such as sleeping too much or not being able to sleep. Appetite and energy levels often decline, and it’s hard to concentrate and focus. MDD is associated with very low feelings of self-worth and feelings of hopelessness. Some people may think about or even attempt suicide.

Persistent depressive disorder (PDD)

Sometimes called dysthymia, PDD has many of the same symptoms as MDD, but at a less intense level. To be diagnosed with persistent depressive disorder, symptoms must have been ongoing for at least two years. 

While people with MDD often find it difficult or even impossible to continue with daily functioning, those with PDD can still manage day-to-day living activities while experiencing frequent feelings of sadness or low mood. Depressed feelings tend to become a regular part of your existence with PDD, taking a major toll on work, relationships, and other aspects of your life.

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that follows a seasonal pattern. Most people who suffer from SAD experience symptoms during the fall and winter, months that are especially cold, gray, and dark. About 10% of patients with SAD experience symptoms in the spring and summer rather than in fall and winter.

SAD is much more common farther north of the equator, where differences in sunlight hours are greatest. It’s also much more common among women.

Researchers theorize that feelings of depression experienced with SAD are triggered by decreases in brain chemicals that respond to natural sunlight. As the amount of sunlight changes, those chemicals also fluctuate, resulting in mood changes and depression. Changes in light also disrupt sleep patterns in people with SAD, which exacerbates depression symptoms.

Bipolar disorder

Sometimes referred to as manic-depressive disorder, bipolar disorder affects about 2.8% of the US adult population. People with bipolar disorder experience periods of depression between bouts of euphoria and extreme energy — what’s sometimes called the manic phase. The level of energy during these episodes can vary.

During manic periods, a person with bipolar disorder may exhibit an unrealistically high level of self-confidence often accompanied by risky behavior, overspending, and extreme physical activity. During these episodes, sleep may decrease, and thoughts and actions can speed up.

Getting treatment for depression

It’s important to note that while these are the four most common types of depression in the United States, they’re not the only types. Other types of depression can have different symptoms or behaviors. Just because your symptoms may not fit these types of depression, that doesn’t mean you’re not depressed.

No matter what type of depression you’re dealing with, remember: It can be treated. The key is to seek help from a licensed mental health professional as soon as possible so you can feel better and regain control of your life.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of depression or another mental health issue, call Flux Psychology or use our online form to request an appointment with Dr. Liner today.

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