There are several types of depression, each with its own distinct set of symptoms. Correctly identifying the type of depression that a person is suffering from is important for successful treatment and care. These include chronic depression, major depression, manic depression, and postpartum, situational, atypical, and endogenous depression. Although there are these various types, some are more common than others. Read on to discover the signs, symptoms, and basics of depression.
Among the basics of depression, major depression is the most common. Major depression is a type of clinical depression. It is also at times referred to as unipolar depression and is considered a form of mood disorder. When a person suffers from major depression, they experience symptoms that disrupt normal activities such as going to work or hinder one’s ability to eat and to enjoy life.
People may experience several of these episodes throughout their life, although for some, it is possible to only have one episode in a lifetime. Symptoms of major depression include loss of the desire to participate in activities that one normally enjoys, low self-esteem, and adverse changes in sleeping habits and eating.
Manic depression, or manic-depressive illness, is a form of depression where a person exhibits periods of extreme high and low mood swings. Because a person with this illness can go from very happy, energetic, or irritable to depression and excessively negative thoughts, it is also known as bipolar disorder or affective psychosis. It is a cyclical illness in which the mood swings are unpredictable and occur over periods of time. When a person’s mood swings between mania and depression more than three times a year, it’s rapid cycling.
Symptoms of a person in the mania stage of the cycle include delusions of grandeur, hallucinations, paranoid rage, reduced sleep, poor judgment, violent behavior, irritability, and extreme euphoria. During the depression stage, the afflicted person may exhibit feelings of worthlessness or helplessness, show a loss of interest in their hobbies or even sex, and experience extreme pessimism. They may also show signs of excessive sleeping and fatigue while awake, weight loss due to severely reduced appetite or weight gain due to overeating, and suicidal thoughts.
Postpartum depression is one of the least understood forms of depression when people are first learning about the basics of depression. When a woman suffers depression that is directly linked to the birth of her child, it is called postpartum depression or postnatal depression. This form of clinical depression can occur up to a year after childbirth and last up to 12 months.
In addition, it can also be triggered by a miscarriage. Symptoms include feelings of hopelessness, bouts of unreasonable frustration, sadness, or a general negative attitude toward the baby. This inhibits the mother’s ability to bond with her baby and can have severe psychological consequences for both for years to come. In extreme cases, a woman suffering from postnatal depression may abuse or kill the child.
Causes of Depression
Currently, researchers do no know with any degree of certainty what actually causes depression. There are a variety of factors, however, that can contribute to or trigger depression. In the case of some individuals, the environment, a given situation, or even genetics may be responsible. Changes in weather can trigger a type of depression called seasonal affective disorder. Certain types of health issues, such as thyroid diseases, dietary deficiencies, traumatic events, relationship issues, certain medications, financial problems, lack of social contact or support, unemployment, and substance abuse, may all contribute to depression.
Exercise and Depression
While there is no surefire cure for all types of depression, exercise is a potentially important approach to mitigating its effects. Exercise releases endorphins, or “good feeling” chemicals, which help to counter low moods. Exercise also helps take one’s mind off of their worries, at least for a while. In addition, depression sufferers can set exercise goals and boost their self-esteem by meeting them. It also gives a person more chances to interact with other people, and it presents an opportunity to replace drinking or drug use with a body-friendly, healthy activity.
Beyond the Basics of Depression
Depression is one of the world’s top causes of disability. In the U.S., 6.7 percent of adults struggle with major depression, according to the National Institutes of Health. Although both genders experience depression, there is a 70 percent greater likelihood that women will experience it than men. It can affect families, friendships, and employment. When left untreated, it can lead to problems such as alcoholism or other substance abuse. Treatment is a crucial step and can be in the form of therapies, medication, or a combination thereof.