Types of depression: Depression is a pervasive and intricate mental health condition that casts a shadow over millions of individuals worldwide. It is not a one-size-fits-all ailment; instead, it exists as a complex spectrum comprising various types and subtypes. Understanding the diverse forms of depression and the intricate web of theories that attempt to elucidate its origins is paramount for effective diagnosis, treatment, and support.
At Integrative Healthcare Center, we know depression is not a monolithic experience. Individualized therapies are necessary for unique types of depression, just as everyone requires a different amount of coffee to get through the day. Understanding these distinctions can make all the difference in the lives of those grappling with depression and those who seek to support them. But what are the underlying causes of these disorders? This article will delve into the diverse types of depression and explore the multifaceted theories behind its origin.
History of Depression
The term “depression” in the context of a mental health condition began appearing in medical journals in the late 19th century. It comes from the Latin “to press down.” According to an article in Philosophy, Psychiatry, & Psychology, melancholia was the preferred term beforehand and had strong associations with intelligent men troubled by moods.
One of the key figures in the development of this term was Emile Kraepelin, a German psychiatrist, who distinguished different forms of mental illness and coined the term “depressive states” or “depressive states of manic-depressive insanity” in the late 19th century. Kraepelin’s work laid the foundation for modern psychiatric classification systems that catalog types of depression.
Theories of Depression
1. Biological Factors
Neurotransmitter Imbalance: One of the most widely studied theories suggests that depression may be related to an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain, particularly serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. These chemicals play a crucial role in regulating mood, and alterations in their levels or functioning can contribute to depressive symptoms. Antidepressant medications often target these neurotransmitter systems to help alleviate symptoms.
Genetics: There is evidence to suggest that genetics can play a role in the development of depression. Individuals with a family history of depression are at a higher risk of experiencing it themselves. According to experts cited in Current Psychiatry Report, no one has discovered one genetic variation responsible for the condition, although research continues to explore the genetic underpinnings of this disorder.
Neuroanatomy: Some studies have indicated that structural and functional changes in the brain, particularly in areas associated with mood regulation, can contribute to depression. The hippocampus and prefrontal cortex are among the brain regions implicated in depression.
2. Psychological Factors
Cognitive Theory: Proposed by Aaron Beck in Cognitive Theory of Depression, this theory suggests that depression is rooted in negative thought patterns and distorted thinking. People with depression may interpret situations negatively, engage in self-criticism, and perceive themselves, their future, and their world as bleak and hopeless. Individuals can correct these false beliefs through cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
Behavioral Theory: Behavioral theorists believe individuals can learn behaviors leading to depression. For instance, individuals who have experienced repeated failures or traumatic events may develop depressive symptoms. This theory focuses on the role of environmental factors and experiences in shaping one’s mood.
Psychodynamic Theory: This theory, developed by Sigmund Freud, posits that unresolved conflicts and repressed emotions from childhood can contribute to depression. It emphasizes the role of unconscious processes in shaping emotional states.
3. Environmental Factors
Life Stressors: Significant life events can trigger depressive episodes, including losing a loved one, divorce, financial troubles, or chronic stress at work. These external stressors can overwhelm an individual’s coping mechanisms, leading to despair.
Childhood Adversity: Traumatic experiences in childhood, such as abuse, neglect, or unstable family environments, can have long-lasting effects on mental health. Adverse childhood events are associated with a higher risk of developing depression in adulthood.
Social Support: The presence or absence of a robust social support network can influence an individual’s vulnerability to depression. Social isolation, loneliness, and a lack of meaningful connections can contribute to depressive symptoms.
One reason alone cannot explain depression, much less account for its different manifestations. Many experts now embrace the biopsychosocial model, which recognizes that depression results from the interaction of all of the above and requires holistic intervention.
Types of Depression
1. Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)
Major Depressive Disorder, commonly called clinical depression, is one of the most well-known versions of this condition. MDD’s features are persistent sadness, loss of interest or pleasure in activities, fatigue, changes in appetite and sleep patterns, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, and difficulty concentrating. According to the National Library of Medicine, MDD can be disabling and may interfere significantly with daily life, with episodes lasting from six months to a year if untreated.
2. Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD)
Also known as dysthymia, Persistent Depressive Disorder is a milder yet chronic form of depression. Unlike MDD, which occurs in discrete episodes, PDD involves a prolonged, low-grade depression lasting at least two years. People with PDD may have periods of feeling better, but their overall mood remains consistently downcast.
3. Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder, previously known as manic-depressive illness, involves extreme mood swings between depressive episodes and manic or hypomanic episodes. During depressive phases, individuals experience the same symptoms as those with MDD. In contrast, elevated mood, impulsivity, increased energy, and decreased need for sleep accompany manic episodes.
4. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression that follows a seasonal pattern, typically occurring in the fall and winter months when there is less natural sunlight. Symptoms include low energy, oversleeping, weight gain, and an overall feeling of sadness and despair. Light therapy is a standard treatment for SAD.
5. Psychotic Depression
Psychotic depression combines the features of severe depression with psychosis, which includes delusions and hallucinations. Individuals with this type of depression may experience distorted perceptions of reality, often with guilt, poverty, or illness themes. They may require a combination of antidepressant and antipsychotic medications for treatment.
6. Atypical Depression
Atypical depression is a subtype of major depression set apart by its mood reactivity (the ability to experience improved mood in response to positive events). Those with atypical depression experienced increased appetite and weight gain, hypersomnia, and a heavy sensation in the limbs. They may be more responsive to antidepressant medications, like monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).
7. Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression affects some women after giving birth. Its main features are overwhelming sadness, fatigue, irritability, and inadequacy in caring for their newborn. Hormonal fluctuations and the stress of new motherhood contribute to this newfound pessimistic mood.
8. Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)
PMDD is a severe form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) characterized by emotional and physical symptoms that can significantly disrupt a woman’s life. These symptoms include mood swings, irritability, anxiety, and physical discomfort greater than typical premenstrual symptoms. PMDD typically occurs in the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle and improves with the onset of menstruation.
9. Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder (DMDD)
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), this depressive disorder is only present in children, and its traits are exhibited as young as six. Daily irritability, frequent outbursts of anger, constant fighting at home, at school, or with their peers, and general malaise or moodiness typify DMDD. The anger exists irrespective of whether the child is undergoing a depressive episode.
10. Treatment-Resistant Depression (TRD)
As the name implies, this difficult-to-understand condition does not react to conventional treatments and therapies. According to the journal Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, the general definition is a major depression that endures after two rounds of antidepressants. Researchers are exploring TRD, and recent developments like Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation show promise in fighting it.
Integrative Healthcare Center and Treating Types of Depression
The worst thing an individual can do with a depressive disorder is sit with it, take it to bed, and let it stew. Life is supposed to be in color, and at Integrative Healthcare Center, we have everything available to help you overcome your funk. We offer therapies like psychiatry, CBT, psychotherapy, medication management, DBT, and other conventional and proven methods to help.
If you are struggling with treatment-resistant depression or prefer innovative techniques shown to improve mood and lead to complete remission markedly, we also offer Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS). TMS is a non-invasive, quick, non-pain-inducing therapy that stimulates areas of the brain and “activates” them, improving symptoms over a short time. Whatever your struggles might be, we have your back.
Call (855) 608-0002, visit us in Nashua, New Hampshire, or message us for a free consultation to change your life.