Depression - Types
A few decades ago, depression would be classified as:
- Endogenous: This type is described as one in which there is no external cause for depression; it can be genetic in origin or may be idiopathic.
- Neurotic/reactive: This type has an obvious external factor precipitating the condition. Common triggers include the loss of a loved one, end of a relationship, death of spouse, a major setback in life, etc.
Currently, depression is classified into the following types, the first two being the most commonly diagnosed ones:
- Major depression: This significantly disables the sufferer and prevents him from functioning normally. It interferes with the person's ability to enjoy activities which he/she once found pleasurable. Major depression can become recurrent or chronic in nature.
- Chronic depression (dysthymia): Longer duration (usually more than two years) with less severe symptoms characterise this type. It is less disabling as compared to major depression.
- Bipolar depression: Also called manic-depressive illness, patients suffering from this type have episodes of extreme highs (like mania) alternating with extreme lows (like depression). This condition tends to be cyclic in nature.
- Seasonal depression (SAD or seasonal affective disorder): Typically, the patient experiences episodes of depression during winter months (when there is less natural sunlight) and it gets better with the onset of spring/summer.
- Psychotic depression: When depression is accompanied by the patient getting away from reality and experiencing delusions/hallucinations, it's called psychotic depression.
- Postpartum depression: The onset of major depression within a month of delivering a baby is called postpartum depression; it affects almost 10-15% women.
The above types of depression can also be broadly classified as:
Circumstantial or situational depression: Changes in seasons, especially from summer to winter, can cause depression known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Situational depression is a short-term form of depression that can occur in the aftermath of various traumatic changes in your normal life, including divorce, retirement, loss of a job and the death of a relative or a close friend. Other situations that can potentially overwhelm your normal coping mechanisms include surviving a hurricane or any other major disaster, surviving a serious accident, experiencing a major illness, and even marriage.
Doctors sometimes refer to the condition as an adjustment disorder. A person with situational depression may have symptoms that are more or less identical to someone with clinical depression; however, there are certain key differences between the effects and treatment of these two disorders.
- Hormonal depression: Biological and hormonal changes causes depression, especially in women; postpartum depression being an example. Many new mothers experience “baby blues”. This is a normal reaction that tends to subside within a few weeks. However, some women experience severe, lasting depression. This condition is known as postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is believed to be influenced, at least in part, by hormonal fluctuations.