Depression symptoms can vary depending on the type of depression one is suffering from. This article discusses what depression symptoms to look for in your loved one. Learn what depression symptoms are associated with different types of depression.
Because there are several different kinds of depression, it only makes sense to talk about symptoms in the context of the type of depression involved. Naturally, a new mother suffering from post-partum depression is going to have a different experience than a pre-teen suffering from non-pathological depression because her dog was hit by a car. Both of those people will have different experiences than someone in a depressive phase of bipolar disorder.
Non-Pathological Depression and Its Symptoms
It is perfectly normal and natural for people to feel depressed for several weeks when they experience some dramatic and/or painful loss. A person who has lost a job, a friend, or a pet, had a family member or friend become gravely ill or die, or received some other blow will normally have a reaction that may be referred to as non-pathological depression to signify that it is not a mental disorder that requires treatment but the natural response of human beings to suffering. While the person who feels this kind of depression may have similar symptoms to depression that is a mood disorder—such as reduced appetite, withdrawal, and trouble sleeping—it is distinguished by the fact that it resolves without any medical intervention in a matter of weeks.
Major Depressive Disorder and Its Symptoms
Major depressive disorder is also called unipolar disorder to distinguish it from bipolar disorder, as well a major depression or clinical depression, to distinguish it from non-pathological depression. This is the disorder people are usually referring to when they just say “depression.” Its symptoms appear episodically, i.e., they do go away after a time, and a person may have a single episode, or repeated occurrences.
The symptoms, which may be severe, include a depressed mood that renders the person non-reactive to things in life that would normally excite or interest him or her, pervasive sadness, loss of interest in food and consequent loss of weight, and lessened interest in his or her usual activities. Physical pains and aches that are unresponsive to treatment, and—in the most extreme cases—suicidal thoughts and/or attempts may occur.
Dysthymic Disorder and Its Symptoms
This less well-known type of depression is also called mild or minor depression or dysthymia. Although people who suffer from it may not experience the deep despair of major depression, calling it mild or minor is a misnomer. This is partly because—unlike major depression—it is chronic, often lasting two years or more—unlike the episodic appearance of major depression. The long duration of depressed thoughts contributes to engraining them in the person’s mind, so that even when other symptoms have lessened, the thought may reoccur unbidden.
Other Types of Depression and Their Symptoms
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is, as its name suggests, a type of depression that is linked to the time of year, usually late fall and winter, when lack of sunlight and chilly weather contributes to depressive symptoms that may include anxiety, fatigue, irritability, and lack of energy. Postpartum Depression is a type of depression that is linked to the unique circumstance of giving birth, and in addition to symptoms that it shares in common with other depressive disorders, the mother may also think about harming her baby or show signs of psychosis. Atypical depression is the odd-man out in this group: people with this type of depression are likely to remain emotionally responsive to events and not have the completely flattened emotional range often seen in other forms of depression. There are some other differences as well.