There Are Many Forms of Depression
Because the word “depression” gets tossed around a lot and is often used as a generic term for a variety of issues a person might be dealing with, we have been looking at the various specific kinds of depression in detail. After all, specificity of diagnosis can lead to specificity of treatment.
You can think of it like this: Your friends call out, “Hey, put on some music.” So you fire up your favorite symphony. “No, no, no,” they say. “Not that music!” So you find some country music and start to sing along. “No!,” your friends shout. “Not that music either!” So you turn on some smooth jazz. As the saxophone plaintively explores a melody, your friends get up and leave the room. “We asked for music,” they say, shaking their heads as they exit.
That might seem ridiculous. Your friend should have just told you what kind of music they wanted to hear, right? But all too often, we do exactly the same thing when it comes to depression. We use a vague word when it would be much more helpful to be specific.
We have looked at a variety of kinds of depression—major depression, persistent depressive disorder, bipolar disorder (which itself has several varieties), seasonal affective disorder, and postpartum depression. Here, we offer a roundup of other types of depression that we have not covered yet.
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
Some women experience depression and related symptoms at the beginning of their period. Symptoms may include:
- Irritability, anxiety, and/or mood swings
- Difficulty concentrating and/or feeling overwhelmed
- Changes in appetite
- Fatigue and/or changes in sleep routines
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder can be addressed with antidepressant medication. Oral contraceptives can also help treat this kind of depression.
A person with atypical depression may feel persistent sadness, but that sadness can be temporarily alleviated by positive events in the person’s life. This is known as “mood reactivity.” In other forms of depression, even happy events and situations often are not enough to lift a person’s mood. In addition to mood reactivity, other symptoms of atypical depression may include:
- Increased appetite and/or weight gain
- Hypersomnia (sleeping too much)
- Feeling weighed down in such a way that makes it difficult to function
- Experiencing intense reactions to criticism or rejection that can make work, school, and social interactions extremely difficult
In some cases, atypical depression is linked to hypothyroidism—a condition in which your body does not produce enough of the thyroid hormone. This variety of depression is often treated with the type of antidepressant known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. In some cases, your doctor may recommend an antidepressant from the class known as monoamine oxidase inhibitor.
Technically speaking, so-called “situational depression” is not an official psychiatric diagnosis. But it is a good descriptor for the persistent sadness a person might feel when dealing with a difficult event or stressful period in their life. The types of situations that might lead to the stress response syndrome will vary from person to person, but some common causes include:
- Divorce or the end of a long-term relationship
- Losing a job or other significant disappointments or stresses at work
- Difficulty in school
- A loved one dealing with chronic illness or the death of a loved one
Generally, your doctor will recommend psychotherapy as a way to address situational depression. In therapy, you can learn strategies for dealing with your sadness in healthy ways that can help alleviate the negative feelings you are experiencing.
The word “psychotic” has taken on a range of meanings in popular culture—many of them related to things like horror movies. But the term has a specific medical meaning—and in the case of psychotic depression it refers to a range of symptoms a person may experience on top of the symptoms of major depression. Those symptoms include:
- Hallucinations: a person sees or hears things that are not, in fact, there
- Delusions: a person clings to beliefs that are demonstrably false
- Paranoia: a strong—but incorrect—belief that other people are trying to cause a person harm
Hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia can lead to a person becoming a danger to themselves or others—and therefore must be addressed immediately. A combination of antidepressants and antipsychotic medications can help. Electroconvulsive therapy (another thing that has taken on a reputation in popular culture that does not reflect the reality of the procedure) can also help by using electrical pulses to stimulate activity in specific areas of the brain.
Get Help for Any Variety
If you are experiencing symptoms of any of the various kinds of depression, it is time to have a conversation with your doctor. Even if you suspect you are just dealing with something temporary or situational, it is important to talk things through and consider your options so that your symptoms do not worsen. And if appropriate, your doctor may suggest getting help from a place that specializes in addressing mental health issues—a place like Johnstown Heights Behavioral Health.
We Are Here to Help with Mental Health Disorders
The staff at Johnstown Heights Behavioral Health know that the catchall term “depression” seldom captures the key details of what a person is experiencing. Depression comes in a variety of forms and each requires a specific approach to treatment.
We are committed to listening closely to you so that we can personalize an approach to treatment that will serve you well. We have the experience and expertise necessary to address the full range of mental health challenges you may be facing. And we have a commitment to a compassionate approach that focuses on you as a person—not as just another client among many.
If you (or someone you love) are struggling with a mental health disorder, we are eager and able to help.