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Understanding Depression: Is There More than One Type?

Understanding Depression: Is There More than One Type?

In a previous article, we discussed what depression is and the overall symptomology of depression. That is, what happens to you when you’re depressed and how the symptoms may look like in everyday life. In the present article, we will talk about the 10 different types of depression.
Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)
Major Depressive Disorder or MDD, also known as major depressive, is a severe form of depression. Having MDD significantly impacts one’s everyday life in areas such as academics, work, eating, sleeping, etc. People with MDD often lost interest in things that they once found enjoyable. This type of depression is debilitating for the individual as it hinders one to go on with normal everyday activities. An MDD episode may occur once only in an individual’s life. However, MDD episodes are usually recurring (Strock, 2002).
Persistent Depressive Disorder (Dysthymic Disorder or Dysthymia)
Persistent Depressive Disorder is also known as Dysthymic Disorder or dysthymia. An episode of Dysthymic Disorder usually lasts about 2 years or longer. However, the symptoms of this type of depression are milder than MDD and are usually not debilitating. A person experiencing an episode of Dysthymic Disorder may be able to go on with their everyday activities. A person may experience one or more episodes of Dysthymic Disorder during their life (Strock, 2002).
Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar Disorder is also known as manic-depressive illness. It is less common than MDD or dysthymia. People who are diagnosed with bipolar disorder experience extreme shifts in mood, from severe highs (mania) or mild highs (hypomania) to severe lows (depression)” (The Anxiety and Depression Association of America, n.d., p. 2).
Cyclothymic Disorder
Cyclothymic Disorder is also known as cyclothymia, which has a number of similarities with Bipolar Disorder. It is, however, milder and chronic. The highs and lows in this type of disorder last for at least 2 or more years. The highs in Cyclothymic Disorder feels like hypomania, and the lows feel like a mild depression. There are times in between where one may feel like themselves (PSYCOM, 2020).
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD occurs during the winter months because there is usually lack of sunlight. This type of depression usually gets better during the months of spring and summer. For 50% of the cases, SAD can be treated with light therapy alone. However, the other half may need medication or psychotherapy either separately to together with light therapy (Strock, 2002).
Psychotic Depression
Psychotic depression is a severe form of depression which usually occurs alongside any form of psychosis. Psychosis is a condition that affects the way brain processes information and causes a person to lose touch with reality (Strock, 2002; WebMD, n.d.).
Peripartum (Postpartum) Depression
When an MDD episode occurs in a new mother within a month after delivering the baby, it is diagnosed as Postpartum Depression (Strock, 2002).
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder or PMDD includes a cluster of symptoms (physical and emotional) that begin about a 7-14 days before menstruation starts. While it may seem similar to Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS), the symptoms of PMDD (especially the emotional symptoms) are much more extreme (Watson, n.d.).
Situational Depression (Reactive Depression)
Situational Depression also known as reactive depression. It is oftentimes a stress-related and does not last very long. A precursor to Situational Depression can be a single traumatic event or a series of traumatic events like loss of a loved one, a serious accident, etc. This type of depression can also be diagnosed as an adjustment disorder with depressed mood since it makes it difficult to adjust to the daily routine after the traumatic event (Cherry, 2020).
Atypical Depression
Atypical Depression, like the name suggests, does not mirror the general assumptions of the usual understanding or presentation of depressive symptoms. While people with Atypical Depression experience symptoms similar to MDD, there is a significant difference, that is, mood reactivity. Mood reactivity means that the person’s mood can improve in reaction to a positive event. Atypical depression is also referred to as MDD with atypical features (Schimelpfening, 2020).

If you think you are struggling with depression and find yourself relating to any of the symptoms mentioned above, you can book an appointment for more professional guidance:

Cherry, K. (2020, March 1). An overview of situational depression. Retrieved form’
Halverson, J. L. (2019, October 7). Postpartum depression. Retrieved from
PSYCOM. (2020, March 3). What is Cyclothymia? Retrieved from
Schimelpfening, N. (2020, February 14) An overview of atypical depression. Retrieved from
Strock, M. (2002). Depression. National Institute of Mental Health (No. 02-3561). NIH Publication.
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America. (no date). Depression. Retrieved from
Watson, S. (no date). Could your severe PMS be PMDD? Retrieved from
WebMD. (no date). Psychosis and psychotic episodes. Retrieved from

By Sadaf Rehman, M.Phil. Psychology

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