Understanding the Different Types of Depression

Know the Types of Depression for Accurate Treatment

Understanding the Different Types of DepressionDepression is such a part of popular culture that everyone knows about it.  Your friend has depression. Your neighbor has depression. Maybe someone in your family has depression or maybe that someone is you.

Despite the fact that depression is widely accepted, there is a general lack of information when it comes to the disorder.

Depression is not one-size-fits-all. In actuality, there are various types of depressive disorders. When you consider the numerous types of depression combined with the available specifiers, the types of depression can be overwhelming.

Since not all depression is created equally, knowing the different types of depression can give you the advantage of having the best information to understand yourself and the people around you.

With better understanding, you will be better able to assist in treatment and problem-solving. More information is always a good thing.

Major Depressive Disorder

Any conversation about depression must begin with major depressive disorder (MDD). This is the commonly understood version of depression that most people are familiar with either from seeing it in media or in your own life.

When diagnosing someone with any mental health disorder, a professional, like a psychiatrist or therapist, uses a book called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM). This book has all the criteria needed to diagnosis along with added information regarding prevalence, prognosis and comorbidity.

For MDD, the symptoms include:

  • Feeling depressed most of the day, almost every day.
  • Having less interest or pleasure in activities that were previously enjoyable.
  • Experiencing weight loss when not dieting. The DSM states that a significant weight loss is more that five percent of your total weight in a month.
  • Problems sleeping. Insomnia or hypersomnia almost every day.  Look for changes in your typical patterns.
  • Movement issues feeling sped up or slowed down almost every day.
  • Having less energy almost every day.
  • Feeling excessively worthless or guilty almost every day
  • Problems with your ability to be decisive, think clearly and maintain concentration
  • Experiencing frequent thoughts of death, thinking you would be better off dead.

Having five out of the nine symptoms for a period of two weeks means that your symptoms fit with MDD. When you have MDD, your symptoms will change so that the five symptoms you experience during one episode are not necessarily the ones that you will experience in every episode.


Also, expect your episodes to come on, last for a variable period and then alleviate. Similarly to bipolar disorder, depressive episodes associated with MDD cycle in and out. You may experience weeks, months or years between episodes.

Once your mental health professional has concluded that you have MDD, there is still work to be done. With depressive disorders, there are specifiers that serve to provide a clearer image of your presentation, prognosis and functioning level.

Often with MDD, your professional will add a specifier to comment on the intensity and occurrence of your symptoms.

A common diagnosis is major depressive disorder recurrent, moderate. The recurrent means that the symptoms leave and then return.  If this is the only occurrence of your symptoms, your professional will use the “single episode” specifier.

The moderate refers to the intensity of symptoms. Mild, moderate, severe and severe with psychotic features are options here. At times depressive symptoms become so strong, the patient will begin to experience hallucinations or delusions. These psychotic symptoms dissipate when depressive symptoms resolve.

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder

You hopefully know that your body and your brain are linked intimately; this is commonly referred to as the mind-body connection. The relationship between your mind and your body is displayed clearly with premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PDD).

With PDD, your menstrual cycles trigger your depressive symptoms.  Symptoms will peak the week before your period and diminish a few days after your menstruation begins.  Symptoms of PDD include:

  • Mood swings and increased sensitivity
  • Increased irritability, anger or conflicts
  • Feeling depressed, hopeless or worthless
  • Feeling anxious, tense or on edge

You must have at least one of the symptoms above, at least one of the symptoms below and five symptoms combined to meet the diagnosis criteria.  The second group of symptoms includes:

  • Less interest in common activities
  • Less concentration
  • Feeling tired or easily fatigued
  • Having a change in appetite usually overeating
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Feeling overwhelmed or powerless
  • Experiencing physical discomfort, tenderness, swelling or feeling bloated

Next page: Presistent depressive disorder, disruptive mood dysregulation disorder, and other types of depressive disorders. 

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