Types of Depression – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment
What is depression?
Sadness, feeling down, having a loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities are symptoms familiar to all of us. But, if they persist and affect our life substantially, it may be depression. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression is the most common illness worldwide and the leading cause of disability. They estimate that over 50 million people are affected by depression, in India.
Diagnosis of depression starts with a doctor’s or a mental health specialist’s consultation. It is important to seek the help of a health professional to rule out different causes of depression, ensure an accurate differential diagnosis, and secure safe and effective treatment. As for most visits to the doctor, there may be a physical examination to check for physical causes and coexisting conditions. Questions will also be asked – ‘taking a history’ – to establish the symptoms, their time course, and so on.
What does not class as depression?
Depression is different from the fluctuations in mood that people experience as a part of a normal life. Temporary emotional responses to the challenges of everyday life do not constitute depression. Likewise, even the feeling of grief resulting from the death of someone close is not itself depression if it does not persist. Depression can, however, be related to bereavement – when depression follows a loss,
Signs and Symptoms
Reduced interest or pleasure in activities previously enjoyed
Loss of sexual desire
Unintentional weight loss (without dieting) or low appetite
Insomnia (difficulty sleeping) or Hypersomnia (excessive sleeping)
Psychomotor agitation, for example, restlessness, pacing up and down
Delayed psychomotor skills, for example, slowed movement and speech
Fatigue or loss of energy
Impaired ability to think, concentrate, or make decisions
Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide, or attempt at suicide
The causes of depression are not fully understood and may not be down to a single source.Depression is likely to be due to a complex combination of factors that include:
Some people are at higher risk of depression than others; risk factors include:
Unipolar and bipolar depression
If the predominant feature is a depressed mood, it is called unipolar depression. However, if it is characterized by both manic and depressive episodes separated by periods of normal mood, it is referred to as bipolar disorder (previously called manic depression). Unipolar depression can involve anxiety and other symptoms – but no manic episodes. However, research shows that for around 40 percent of the time, individuals with bipolar disorder are depressed, making the two conditions difficult to distinguish.
Major depressive disorder with psychotic features
This condition is characterized by depression accompanied by psychosis. Psychosis can involve delusions – false beliefs and detachment from reality, or hallucinations – sensing things that do not exist.
Women often experience ‘baby blues’ with a newborn, but postpartum depression – also known as postnatal depression – is more severe.
Major depressive disorder with seasonal pattern
Previously called as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), this condition is related to the reduced daylight of winter – the depression occurs during this season but lifts for the rest of the year and in response to light therapy.