Discovering Different Types of Depression

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Major Depressive Disorder

A person with major depressive disorder (MDD) exhibits symptoms of depression for an extended amount of time. “MDD causes a lengthy period of gloom and hopelessness, and may rob the sufferer of the ability to take pleasure in activities or relationships that were previously enjoyable” (Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders, 2010). Causes of MDD can be intrapsychic, environmental, and biological. Symptoms may include:

  • Significant changes in weight and/or appetite
  • Insomnia or excessive sleep
  • Fatigue or decreased energy
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Feelings of guilt and/or worthlessness
  • Slowed thinking
  • Inability to sit still

There are several subcategories of MDD which include:

  • Atypical Depression
  • Melancholic Depression
  • Catatonic Depression

Dysthymic Disorder

Dysthymic disorder is not as severe as major depressive disorder. While depression is certainly present, it is not as persistent. This being said, dysthymic disorder can still inhibit quality of life. Although there may be periods of time when the individual feels normal, it is still difficult for the person to thoroughly enjoy themselves. On the upside, dysthymic disorder typically does not interfere with daily activities. According to the Mayo Clinic (2010), symptoms usually last for several years and include:

  • Loss of interest in daily activities
  • Feeling sad or down
  • Hopelessness
  • Lack of energy
  • Fatigue
  • Low self-esteem
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Trouble making decisions
  • Self-criticism
  • Excessive anger
  • Decreased productivity
  • Avoiding social activities
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Poor appetite
  • Overeating
  • Sleep problems

Manic Depression

Also known as bipolar disorder, manic depression is earmarked by extreme “mood episodes.” In a “manic episode,” person may experience exaggerated feelings of excitement or exhilaration. Whereas in a “depressive episode,” the person can feel as though their world is falling apart. At times, both episodes happen at the same time and are known as a “mixed state.” The following lists of symptoms are divided into mania and depressive episodes (Bressert, 2010).

Mania Symptoms:

  • heightened sense of self-importance
  • exaggerated positive outlook
  • significantly decreased need for sleep
  • poor appetite and weight loss
  • racing speech, flight of ideas, impulsiveness
  • ideas that move quickly from one subject to the next
  • poor concentration, easy distractibility
  • increased activity level
  • excessive involvement in pleasurable activities
  • poor financial choices, rash spending sprees
  • excessive irritability, aggressive behavior

Depressive Symptoms:

  • feelings of sadness or hopelessness
  • loss of interest in pleasurable or usual activities
  • difficulty sleeping; early-morning awakening
  • loss of energy and constant lethargy
  • sense of guilt or low self-esteem
  • difficulty concentrating
  • negative thoughts about the future
  • weight gain or weight loss
  • talk of suicide or death

Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression is classified as a major depressive episode following childbirth. It usually passes rather quickly and does not have any long-lasting or damaging effects. Left untreated though, it could last for a year or more. On occasion, a new mother may have what is called postpartum psychosis; this is more severe than postpartum depression and can last much longer. Symptoms of postpartum depression may include:

  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Mood swings
  • Low sex drive
  • Thoughts of harming baby or self
  • Fatigue
  • Trouble bonding with baby
  • Agitation and/or anger
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Unable to experience joy
  • Feelings of inadequacy, shame, or guilt

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is when an individual becomes depressed during the same time each year. People with SAD usually start feeling “blue” in the fall and it carries over into the winter months. Although, there are some individuals that experience the opposite; feeling sad during the summer months with symptoms diminishing in the fall. Symptoms include:

Winter depression

  • Oversleeping
  • Fatigue
  • Lack of energy
  • Increased appetite
  • Weight gain
  • Lack of interest in daily activities
  • Depression
  • Trouble concentrating

Summer depression

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Weight loss
  • Agitation/irritability
  • Increased sex drive
  • Increased sex drive

Agitated Depression

Agitated depression, or mixed state, is a type of major depression accompanied by extreme agitation. Due to the heightened state of agitation, this disorder is potentially dangerous as it raises the risk of suicide attempts. There are three subcategories: psychotic agitated depression, non-psychotic agitation depression, and excited agitation depression. Surviving Depression (2010) lists the following symptoms:

  • Pacing
  • Handwringing
  • Inability to sit still
  • Pulling or rubbing on hair, skin, or clothing
  • Outbursts of complaining or shouting
  • Talking on and on - cannot seem to stop talking
  • You are anxious and restless
  • Find it hard to define your problems
  • Wander restlessly around, making the same complaints over and over

Psychotic Depression

A major depressive disorder, psychotic depression is accompanied by hallucinations, hearing voices, and delusions. “Often psychotically depressed people become paranoid or come to believe that their thoughts are not their own (thought insertion) or that others can ‘hear’ their thoughts (thought broadcasting)” (PsychCentral, 2010). While this may sound a bit like schizophrenia, there is a major difference; patients with psychotic depression know that their delusions are not real. In fact, the individual is usually ashamed and embarrassed by such delusions, often keeping it to themselves. In addition to typical depression symptoms, symptoms of psychotic depression include:

  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Hypochondria
  • Insomnia
  • Physical immobility
  • Constipation
  • Cognitive impairment


Bressert, S. (2010). Symptoms of bipolar disorder (manic depression). Retrieved October 8, 2010, from (2010). Types of depression: Definitions and terminology. Retrieved October 8, 2010, from

Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders (2010). Major depressive disorder. Retrieved October 8, 2010, from

Mayo Clinic (2010). Dysthymia. Retrieved October 8, 2010, from

PsychCental (2010). Psychotic depression. Retrieved October 9, 2010, from

Surviving Depression (2010). Agitated depression. Retrieved October 9, 2010, from