Depression comes in many shapes and forms. The different symptoms of depression have unique causes and effects. Knowing what type of depression you have can help you manage your symptoms and get the most effective treatment.
Major depression is characterized by the inability to enjoy life and experience pleasure. The symptoms of major depression are constant, ranging from moderate to severe. Left untreated, major depression typically lasts for about six months. Some people experience just a single depressive episode in their lifetime, but more commonly, major depression is a recurring disorder.
Dysthymia (recurring, mild depression)
Dysthmia is a type of chronic, more mild depression. More days than not, you feel mildly or moderately depressed, although you may have brief periods of normal mood. The symptoms of dysthymia are not as strong as the symptoms of major depression, but they last much longer. Some people also experience major depressive episodes on top of dysthymia, a condition known as “double depression.” If you suffer from dysthymia, you may feel like you have always suffered from depression. Or you may think that your continuous depressed state is just “normal.” However, dysthymia can be treated, even if your symptoms of depression have gone untreated for years.
Bipolar Disorder, also known as manic depression, is characterized by cycling mood changes. Episodes of depression alternate with manic episodes, which can include impulsive behavior, hyperactivity, rapid speech, and little to no sleep. Typically, the switch from one mood extreme to the other is gradual, with each manic or depressive episode lasting for at least several weeks. When depressed, a person with bipolar disorder exhibits the usual symptoms of major depression.