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Links to our Depression Support Group & Information

Depression Introduction Causes Of Depression Symptoms of Depression Depression And Other Illnesses
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TYPES OF DEPRESSION

Depressive disorders come in different forms, just as in the case with other illnesses such as heart disease. Here we briefly describes three of the most common types of depressive disorders. However, within these types there are variations in the number of symptoms, their severity, and persistence.

Major depression is manifested by a combination of symptoms that interfere with the ability to work, study, sleep, eat, and enjoy once pleasurable activities. Such a disabling episode of depression may occur only once but more commonly occurs several times in a lifetime.

A less severe type of depression, dysthymia, involves long-term, chronic symptoms that do not disable, but keep one from functioning well or from feeling good. Many people with dysthymia also experience major depressive episodes at some time in their lives.

Another type of depression is bipolar disorder, also called manic-depressive illness. Not nearly as prevalent as other forms of depressive disorders, bipolar disorder is characterized by cycling mood changes: severe highs (mania) and lows (depression). Sometimes the mood switches are dramatic and rapid, but most often they are gradual. When in the depressed cycle, an individual can have any or all of the symptoms of a depressive disorder. When in the manic cycle, the individual may be overactive, overtalkative, and have a great deal of energy. Mania often affects thinking, judgment, and social behavior in ways that cause serious problems and embarrassment. For example, the individual in a manic phase may feel elated, full of grand schemes that might range from unwise business decisions to romantic sprees. Mania, left untreated, may worsen to a psychotic state.

Dysthymic disorder (or dysthymia), a less severe yet typically more chronic form of depression, is diagnosed when depressed mood persists for at least two years in adults (one year in children or adolescents) and is accompanied by at least two other depressive symptoms. Many people with dysthymic disorder also experience major depressive episodes. While unipolar major depression and dysthymia are the primary forms of depression, a variety of other subtypes exist.

In contrast to the normal emotional experiences of sadness, loss, or passing mood states, depression is extreme and persistent and can interfere significantly with an individual's ability to function. In fact, a recent study found unipolar major depression to be the leading cause of disability in the United States and worldwide.

There is a high degree of variation among people with depression in terms of symptoms, course of illness, and response to treatment, indicating that depression may have a number of complex and interacting causes. This variability poses a major challenge to researchers attempting to understand and treat the disorder. However, recent advances in research technology are bringing scientists closer than ever before to characterizing the biology and physiology of depression in its different forms and to the possibility of identifying effective treatments for individuals based on symptom presentation.

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