Understanding Depression

With so much information available on the internet these days, it is difficult to be able to discern what information is most accurate. There are many questions surrounding depression, and hopefully this will provide a basic and more thorough understanding of depression.

What is Depression?

Depression is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think, and how you act. A person with depression may experience feelings of intense sadness -- including feeling helpless, hopeless, and worthless – and may last for many days to weeks. It may keep a person from functioning normally.

Persons with this condition cannot simply gather themselves together and recover. Generally, treatment is substantially crucial and essential to healing.

Are there different types of Depression?

The short answer is yes.  The types of depression that exist are Major Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Cyclothymic Disorder, Dysthymic Disorder, and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Furthermore, under the umbrella of Major Depression exists Melancholia, Psychotic Depression, and Antenatal and Postnatal (Postpartum) Depression.

Major Depression

Major depression is sometimes called major depressive disorder, clinical depression, unipolar depression or simply 'depression'. It involves low mood and/or loss of interest and pleasure in usual activities, as well as other symptoms. The symptoms are experienced most days and last for at least two weeks. Symptoms of depression interfere with all areas of a person's life, including work and social relationships.


Melancholia is a significant mental health condition characterized by persistent and intense feelings of sadness and hopelessness. The disorder can affect many areas of life, including work, school, and relationships. It may also impact mood and behavior as well as various physical functions, such as appetite and sleep. One may lose interest in activities they once enjoyed and have trouble getting through the day. Occasionally, they may also feel as if life isn’t worth living.

Psychotic Depression

Though less common, psychotic depression is worth noting because those affected by the disorder experience losing touch with reality. The delusions of things seen or heard, or believing that something is real when it is not can be dangerous to the individual. These delusions, coupled with the typical symptoms or Major Depression require immediate attention and intervention.

Antenatal and Postnatal Depression (Postpartum Depression)

Most commonly known as Postpartum Depression, this type of depression has been receiving more attention. Most mothers feel what is known as “Baby Blues” due to the significant drop in hormones and the new and seemingly overwhelming task of becoming a mother. However, Postpartum Depression lasts longer, and the feelings and thoughts associated Baby Blues are more severe. A mother with Postpartum Depression may experience severe mood swings, excessive crying, difficulty bonding with baby, irritability, anger, feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt, or inadequacy, and thoughts of harming your baby. Mothers who have believe they are experiencing Postpartum Depression should seek a professional to help them navigate through their thoughts and feelings, and start feeling like themselves again.

Bipolar Disorder

Also known as manic depression, Bipolar Disorder causes periods of depression and periods of elevated mood. The elevated mood is significant and is known as mania or hypomania, depending on its severity, or whether symptoms of psychosis are present. A combination of therapy and medication is usually the treatment option for those affected by Bipolar Disorder.

Cyclothymic Disorder

Cyclothymic disorder, a mild form of bipolar disorder, is characterized by chronic, fluctuating mood swings—from symptoms of depression to symptoms of hypomania. These symptoms are not sufficient in number, severity, or duration to meet the full criteria for a hypomanic or depressive episode.

Dysthymic Disorder

Dysthymic disorder, or dysthymia, is a type of depression that lasts for at least 2 years. Some people suffer from dysthymia for many years. Their depression is usually mild or moderate, rather than severe. Symptoms of dysthymic disorder include a poor appetite or overeating, difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much, low energy, fatigue, and feelings of hopelessness. People who have dysthymic disorder may have periods of normal mood that last up to 2 months.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Seasonal depression (SAD) is a state of mind condition felt by most people during Winter months. SAD is most commonly characterized by a seasonal depression, "down" feelings, a yearning to sleep for too long and a regular desire for starchier foods. The signs of SAD typically start in the late Fall where there is already less daytime. It might not start subside till late winter season or spring.

If you believe you, or someone you know, is being affected by depression it is important to seek help. Many therapists even offer a free consultation where you can decide if the therapist is a good fit for you, and help determine a treatment plan. Therapy is an essential part of healing and is recommended for maintaining optimal mental and emotional health. If you still have questions, please get in touch!