What Are the Different Types of Depression?

Published on: 29 Sep 2021
Clinically Reviewed by Liz Kelly, LCSW
woman lying in bed covering face with blanket

Major depression affects a large percentage of Americans. In fact, in 2017, an estimated 7.1% of adults in the United States had at least one major depressive episode. Depression is a mood disorder that can be debilitating and affect your daily life and functioning. While it’s common to go through periods of grief and even deep, profound sadness, when these feelings persist and begin to interfere with life, it may be more than just the normal blues. 

Depression can present in many forms, and the type of depression you have, along with the severity you experience, can have a wide range of symptoms and impact on your life.

If you’re wondering how many types of depression are there, read on. We’re exploring the different kinds of depression and their symptoms here.   

How Many Types of Depression Are There?

There are many forms of depression. Different kinds of depression can have various symptoms, and some may even overlap or seem similar to others. It’s important to understand the various types of depression and the symptoms that are common to each if you think you may be depressed. 

Most Common Forms of Depression

Though depression can come in many forms, the following are some of the most commonly experienced types. 

Major depressive disorder (MDD)

Sometimes referred to as clinical depression, major depressive disorder (MDD) is a mood disorder where those affected typically have depressive symptoms almost all day, virtually every day. It’s important to note that just like a lot of mental health conditions, MDD is not situational. Even if you have a very full life with loving relationships and a great career you can be diagnosed with MDD. 

So, what does depression feel like? Depression symptoms can occur for several weeks or even months. Sometimes MDD is one single episode, and other times it’s something people deal with for years or their entire life.

Major depressive disorder symptoms may include:

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Sleeping excessively
  • Consistent and overwhelming worry or anxiety
  • Loss of appetite
  • Overeating
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling unable to make decisions
  • Feeling despondent
  • New or unexplained pain
  • Loss of interest in things you once enjoyed
  • Feeling worthless
  • Thoughts of self-harm
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Persistent depressive disorder (PDD)

Persistent depressive disorder (PDD) was once commonly known as dysthymic disorder. This chronic depression lasts for two years or more. It typically won’t feel quite as debilitating as major depressive disorder, but it can still have a major impact on your life, relationships, and daily function. The severity of PDD can range from mild, to moderate, to severe depression. 

Even with brief reprieves of symptoms (usually two months or less), symptoms typically return and can be quite disruptive. Because PDD symptoms can occur for such a long period, it’s not unusual for those with it to start feeling like they’re having regular behavior and thought patterns. 

Symptoms of PDD or dysthymic disorder can include:

  • Feeling sad
  • Feeling angry 
  • Feeling irritable
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Having low self-esteem
  • Having a loss of interest in things you once enjoyed
  • Excessive sleeping
  • Having a hard time falling or staying asleep
  • General fatigue 
  • Lack of energy or motivation
  • Change in appetite
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Withdrawing from social activities

Bipolar disorder (previously referred to as manic depression)

Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder that results in large mood swings. Those with bipolar disorder will experience periods of mania (extreme highs) that often alternate with depressive periods (extreme lows). 

There is an increased risk of suicide with bipolar disorder, and those who have the most severe form may experience delusions and hallucinations. Symptoms may differ, depending on if someone is having a manic or depressive episode. 

Symptoms of a bipolar manic episode can include:

  • Unusually high levels of energy
  • Increased irritability
  • Feeling a lack of need for sleep
  • Grandiose thinking 
  • Inflated sense of self-importance
  • Racing thoughts
  • Fast speech
  • Increased risky behavior, including with multiple sexual partners and activity
  • Self-destructive behavior
  • Feelings of euphoria

Symptoms of a bipolar depressive episode can include:

  • Feeling sad
  • Feeling empty
  • Sleeping too much
  • Feeling fatigued or a lack of energy
  • Withdrawal from social activities
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Loss of interest in things you once enjoyed
  • Suicidal thoughts

Postpartum depression (PPD)

It’s clinically referred to as major depressive disorder with peripartum onset, and PPD is experienced in the weeks before and up to months after giving birth. It’s known as perinatal depression when the symptoms occur during pregnancy, and postpartum when they occur after birth. While it’s largely women who have PPD, some men also become depressed during this time. 

Symptoms of PPD can include:

  • Anxiety
  • Sadness
  • Exhaustion
  • Anger
  • Rage
  • Difficulty bonding with the baby
  • Severe mood swings
  • Feeling inadequate
  • Appetite changes
  • Excessive worry about the baby’s health
  • Having a difficult time caring for yourself
  • Having a difficult time caring for the new baby
  • Thoughts of self harm or suicide
  • Thoughts of harming the baby

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is an extreme and severe form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). PMDD tends to have more psychological symptoms, whereas PMS on its own can have both psychological as well as physical symptoms. With PMDD, the psychological symptoms are more extreme, however. High emotions (similar to what you may experience with PMS) may present as a more intense sadness or depression that actually hinders daily functioning when you have PMDD.

PMDD is thought to be caused by hormonal changes (like PMS) but can become so severe that some women experience thoughts of suicide in some cases. 

Symptoms of PMDD can include:

  • Headaches
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle pain
  • Cramps and bloating
  • Breast tenderness
  • Sadness
  • Irritability
  • Anger
  • Binge eating and/or food cravings
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Panic attacks
  • Anxiety
  • Sleep issues
  • Difficulty focusing
  • General lack of energy
  • Being overly self-critical
  • Thoughts of suicide

Depressive psychosis

Depressive psychosis, or depression with psychosis, occurs when someone with major depression experiences a loss of touch with reality. Delusions and hallucinations are common during depressive episodes. Depressive psychosis is clinically known as major depressive disorder with psychotic features. 

For people who have depressive psychosis, these experiences are very realistic. They’re unable to recognize that what they think or feel is happening is not true or based in reality.  

Symptoms of depressive psychosis can include any of the following, with the inclusion of delusions or hallucinations:

  • Exhaustion
  • Sleep disruption
  • Severe change in appetite
  • Loss in interest of things you once enjoyed
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Being indecisive
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Thoughts of death
  • Thoughts of suicide

Symptoms of psychosis can include:

  • Hallucinations involve hearing, seeing, smelling, feeling, or tasting things that aren’t real. For example, thinking someone is there when they aren’t or hearing voices that aren’t really there. 
  • Delusions are when someone has thoughts or beliefs that are untrue or illogical. 

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) 

Also known as seasonal affective disorder, SAD is clinically known as major depressive disorder (MDD) with a seasonal pattern. People with SAD often find their depression correlates with weather and seasons. It’s most common during the winter months, and as the weather improves and spring begins, depressive symptoms may also improve as well.

SAD is thought to be related to a disturbance in the circadian rhythm of your body, and it’s more common in geographical regions further away from the equator. In extreme cases, SAD can even lead to thoughts of suicide. 

Symptoms of SAD can include:

  • Feeling exhausted or needing more sleep
  • Withdrawing from social circles and activities
  • Weight gain
  • Feeling sad
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Feeling unworthy
  • Thoughts of suicide

Situational depression

Situational depression is clinically known as adjustment disorder with depressed mood. While many of the symptoms can look like major depressive disorder (MDD), situational depression is different because it’s brought on and experienced after a defined, specific stressful, or life-altering event. 

Some common triggers of situational depression can include: 

  • Diagnosis of a serious illness
  • Death of a friend or loved one
  • Divorce
  • Child custody issues
  • A life-threatening event
  • Abusive relationships
  • Legal troubles
  • Loss of a job
  • Financial stress

Feelings of grief are normal after any loss, but situational depression can result in interference with daily life.

Symptoms of situational depression can include:

  • Feeling sad
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Constant or frequent crying
  • Appetite changes
  • Anxiety
  • Sleep difficulty or lack of energy
  • Unexplained aches and pains
  • Extreme and chronic fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Withdrawing from social activities and events

Atypical depression

Atypical depression, also known as depressive disorder with atypical features, strays from our normal understanding of depression. Its symptoms will temporarily go away in response to positive events in life. This common form of depression is exceptionally difficult for those who experience it because they’ll have periods where they don’t present with classically depressed symptoms.

Symptoms of atypical depression can include:

  • Sleeping more than normal
  • Bouts of insomnia
  • Negative body image 
  • Increasingly being sensitive to rejection
  • Difficulty accepting criticism
  • Pains or aches
  • Excessive eating
  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling pressure or weighed down
  • Having excessively reactive moods

Depression can be much more than just feeling sad or having a difficult time getting out of bed.  If you find yourself feeling more irritable than normal, or if things you used to enjoy simply aren’t fun anymore, you may want to consider talking with a mental health professional and getting screened for depression.” 

Talkspace therapist Liz Kelly, LICSW

How To Know What Kind of Depression You Have 

Do you wonder if you have any of the forms of depression discussed here? Take our depression test to find out if you may have common depression symptoms. Keep in mind that depression can have different effects on different people, so if you’re experiencing any of the symptoms we’ve covered and you feel like they’re beginning to interfere with your life, it may be time to get help. 

Reaching out to your doctor or a mental health care provider is the first step. Treatment is available, and with the right guidance and support, you can learn how to manage depression and return to living a full and productive life. 

Depression can make you feel hopeless, but there are a lot of different strategies and treatments available to ease symptoms of depression. Talking with a mental health professional can help you figure out a unique plan to improve and maintain your mental wellness.”

Talkspace therapist Liz Kelly, LICSW

Sources:

1. NIMH » Major Depression. Nimh.nih.gov. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/major-depression. Published 2017. Accessed August 30, 2021.

2. Psychotic depression. nhs.uk. https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/conditions/psychotic-depression/. Published 2019. Accessed August 30, 2021.

3. Vadnie CA, McClung CA. Circadian rhythm disturbances in mood disorders: Insights into the role of the suprachiasmatic nucleus. Neural Plast. 2017;2017:1504507. doi:10.1155/2017/1504507.

Talkspace articles are written by experienced mental health-wellness contributors; they are grounded in scientific research and evidence-based practices. Articles are extensively reviewed by our team of clinical experts (therapists and psychiatrists of various specialties) to ensure content is accurate and on par with current industry standards.

Our goal at Talkspace is to provide the most up-to-date, valuable, and objective information on mental health-related topics in order to help readers make informed decisions.

Articles contain trusted third-party sources that are either directly linked to in the text or listed at the bottom to take readers directly to the source.

You May Also Like
clinical depression
Read More
Published on: 25 Apr 2020

A Guide to Clinical Depression

Published on: 25 Apr 2020
Depression is a serious mental health condition that can affect every part of a person’s daily life. Contrary…