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The Many Faces of Depression: Different Types and Subtypes

The Interplay between Nutrition, Sleep, and Depression

Depression is a common mental health condition affecting more than 280 million people worldwide. It’s a leading cause of disability, affecting individuals’ ability to work, study, and engage in day-to-day life.

Depression doesn’t always fit neatly into a single category, and individuals may experience it differently based on genetics, life experiences, and brain chemistry.

It manifests in different forms and subtypes, each with unique characteristics and challenges.

Major Depression

Also called Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), major depression is the most common form of clinical depression.

It involves persistent and severe symptoms, such as deep sadness, hopelessness, and a loss of interest in daily activities.

To be diagnosed with MDD, an individual must experience a major depressive episode lasting at least two weeks.

Persistent Depressive Disorder (Dysthymia)

Often called Dysthymia, Persistent Depressive Disorder is a chronic depression that differs from major depression in that symptoms are less severe but persist for at least two years.

Some individuals with Dysthymia may experience periods of major depression on top of their chronic low mood.

Double Depression

Double depression occurs when someone with Persistent Depressive Disorder experiences a major depressive episode.

This combination leads to more severe symptoms and challenges in treatment.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder, previously called manic depression, is a mood disorder that stands out in the realm of depressive conditions due to its unique oscillation between depressive and manic episodes.

During depressive episodes, individuals with Bipolar Disorder experience depression symptoms similar to Major Depressive Disorder.

Meanwhile, during full-blown manic episodes, individuals may exhibit heightened energy, extreme euphoria, impulsivity, racing thoughts, and trouble sleeping.

Bipolar disorder has two types: Bipolar I and Bipolar II.

Bipolar I Disorder represents the most severe variant, featuring full-blown manic episodes that last at least seven days or require immediate hospitalization.

In contrast, Bipolar II Disorder involves depressive episodes paired with hypomanic episodes—less intense than full mania but still disruptive to daily life.

Cyclothymic Disorder

Cyclothymic disorder is a lesser-known yet significant mood disorder that falls under the broader spectrum of Bipolar Disorders.

Often described as a mild form of Bipolar Disorder, it involves recurrent mood swings that alternate between hypomanic and depressive states.

However, these mood swings don’t meet the criteria for manic or major depressive episodes.

Unlike Bipolar I or Bipolar II Disorders, where individuals may experience lengthy periods of stability between mood episodes, Cyclothymic Disorder is chronic.

Mood fluctuations persist for at least two years in adults (one year in children and adolescents) without a symptom-free period exceeding two months.

Persistent Depressive Disorder (Dysthymia)

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is marked by a seasonal pattern, typically occurring in fall and winter due to reduced exposure to natural light.

SAD induces low mood, increased appetite, weight gain, and diminished interest in activities. Light therapy is a standard treatment.

Reverse SAD

While SAD typically happens during the fall and winter when daylight decreases, Reverse SAD occurs during the spring and summer months when most people revel in sunshine and warmth.

Individuals with Reverse SAD often experience irritability and restlessness during this period. Unlike the lethargy associated with winter SAD, those with Reverse SAD may have difficulty winding down and feel overly energetic.

Other symptoms may include sleep changes, a loss of appetite, and other depression symptoms.

Psychotic Depression

Psychotic Depression is a severe and debilitating form of major depressive disorder (MDD) characterized by psychotic symptoms.

This condition goes beyond the typical experience of clinical depression, as it involves a detachment from reality due to delusions and/or hallucinations.

Psychotic depression often takes on a chronic course, with symptoms lasting for an extended period if left untreated.

Peripartum (Postpartum) Depression

Peripartum Depression, also known as Postpartum Depression, is a significant mental health condition that affects new mothers during or after pregnancy.

While childbirth is often associated with joy and celebration, some women experience profound emotional challenges that can manifest as depression.

Peripartum Depression can occur during pregnancy (antepartum) or within the first year after childbirth (postpartum). Most commonly, it emerges shortly after giving birth.

The symptoms of Peripartum Depression are similar to those of major depression, but some women also experience physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach problems, and muscle pain alongside the emotional symptoms.

Peripartum Depression can strain the mother-infant bond, as mothers may have difficulty bonding with or caring for their newborns due to emotional distress.

Postpartum Psychosis

Postpartum Psychosis, albeit rare, is a more severe type of postpartum depression that involves hallucinations, delusions, and impaired judgment.

These symptoms can be severe and distressing.

Postpartum Psychosis carries a high risk of self-harm or harm to the newborn or other family members. This is a medical emergency.

Postpartum Psychosis

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) is a severe form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) that goes beyond the typical mood swings and physical discomfort many women experience before their menstrual period.

PMDD involves intense emotional and physical symptoms that can disrupt daily functioning, making it challenging to concentrate, engage in social activities, or perform well at work or school.

Symptoms usually improve once menstruation begins and are absent during the first half of the menstrual cycle.

‘Situational’ Depression

‘Situational’ depression, or reactive depression, occurs in response to significant life events or situations. It is a natural emotional response to adversity, change, or loss.

It’s triggered by specific circumstances such as job loss, divorce, financial difficulties, or relationship problems.

Unlike clinical depression, ‘situational’ depression is typically time-limited and improves as the individual copes with the situation or seeks support.

Grief-related Depression

Grief-related depression is a natural response to the loss of a loved one, whether through death or other forms of separation. It shares some symptoms with depression but differs in its origin.

Adjustment Disorder with Depressed Mood

Adjustment Disorder with Depressed Mood is a mental health condition that arises in response to a stressful life event such as a major life change or crisis.

Stress-induced Depression

Stress-induced depression is a type of depression directly tied to high levels of chronic stress. It is a complex interplay between external stressors and biological vulnerability.

It emerges due to ongoing, chronic stress, such as work-related stress, caregiving responsibilities, or relationship conflicts.

Individuals may experience various depressive symptoms, often mirroring the chronic stressors’ toll on their mental health.

Stress-induced Depression

Atypical Depression

Atypical Depression showcases atypical features such as increased appetite, weight gain, excessive sleep, and “mood reactivity,” where positive events provide temporary relief.

This contrasts with the pervasive low mood seen in other forms of depression.

It’s common for people with atypical depression to have a heightened sensitivity to rejection, leading to social anxiety and avoidance of social situations.

Atypical Depression with Anxiety

Atypical Depression with Anxiety combines depressive symptoms with features of anxiety disorders.

The combination of depressive and anxious features can make diagnosis and treatment more challenging, as it requires addressing both aspects of the condition.

Catatonic Depression

Catatonic Depression is a rare subtype characterized by extreme physical and mental immobility, sometimes accompanied by motor abnormalities or unusual body postures.

Speech can be severely impaired, ranging from muteness to incoherent speech.

Prolonged catatonia can lead to a risk of dehydration and malnutrition, necessitating medical intervention.

Treatment-Resistant Depression

Treatment-Resistant Depression is a form of depression that does not respond well to traditional treatments, such as therapy or antidepressant medications.

Specialized interventions like electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) or Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) Therapy may be necessary.

Co-Morbid Depression with Other Mental Health Disorders

Co-Morbid Depression with Other Mental Health Disorders refers to the co-occurrence of depression with one or more other mental health conditions.

Common conditions that can appear with depression include anxiety disorders, substance abuse, bipolar disorder, or eating disorders.

The presence of multiple conditions can result in a complex and interconnected symptom picture, making diagnosis and treatment planning more intricate.

Managing co-morbid depression requires integrated treatment that addresses all co-occurring conditions simultaneously.

Subsyndromal Depression

Subsyndromal Depression is a milder form of depression where individuals experience some, but not all, of the criteria for a full-blown depressive episode.

Subsyndromal Depression can progress to more severe forms of depression if left untreated.

Finding the Right Path to Wellness

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, Lucid Wellness Center is here to help. Our dedicated team, specializing in TMS therapy, understands the complexities of depression and its various forms.

Whether it’s Major Depression, Bipolar Disorder, or any subtype in between, we provide personalized care to guide you toward a brighter, more hopeful future.

Contact us today and take the first step towards healing and wellness.

Frequently Asked Questions About Subtypes of Depression

What Are Different Types of Depression?

The types of depression are Major Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), Psychotic Depression, and many more, each with unique features and diagnostic criteria.

What Are the Stages of Depression?

Depression doesn’t always progress in stages but can range from mild to severe. Common stages include mild, moderate, and severe depression, with symptoms intensifying as severity increases.

What Type of Depression Do I Have?

A mental health professional can determine your type of depression based on your symptoms, history, and clinical assessment. It’s essential to seek a professional diagnosis.

What Is the Worst Form of Depression?

The worst form of depression varies among individuals. Severe depression, including Psychotic Depression and Treatment-Resistant Depression, can be particularly challenging.

What’s the Difference Between Depression and Major Depressive Disorder?

Depression is a broad term encompassing various depressive disorders. Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is a specific diagnosis within the depressive disorders category, characterized by recurrent and severe depressive episodes.

What’s the Difference Between Depression and Clinical Depression?

“Depression” and “Clinical Depression” are often used interchangeably. Clinical depression typically refers to major depressive episodes that meet specific diagnostic criteria outlined by the American Psychiatric Association.


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Hirschfeld, R.M. “Differential Diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder and Major Depressive Disorder.” Journal of Affective Disorders, vol. 169, 2014, pp. S12-S16, Accessed 12 Sept. 2023.

Pitsillou, Eleni, et al. “The Cellular and Molecular Basis of Major Depressive Disorder: Towards a Unified Model for Understanding Clinical Depression.” Molecular Biology Reports, vol. 47, no. 1, Springer Science and Business Media LLC, Oct. 2019, pp. 753–70. Crossref,

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