Understanding the Many Forms of Depression

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Sad woman staring out the window during a lockdown

The term “depression” is often used to encompass many different conditions or behaviors. However, depression is more than just one thing and can present itself in unique ways. 

Different forms of depression can have episodes that last varying lengths of time and unique symptoms. Moving past the idea of “depression” as a “one-term-fits-all” idea and understanding the nuances that characterize different types of depression can help each individual create an effective recovery plan for their unique needs. Major depression, persistent depressive disorder, seasonal affective disorder, atypical depression, and postpartum depression are all common and are just a few ways in which depression can manifest and affect a person’s life. 

Major Depressive Disorder

Depression is much more than a feeling of sadness. While having a low mood can be indicative of depression, major depressive disorder can have additional symptoms. This disorder is indicated in individuals who experience extremely difficult depressive symptoms lasting for a minimum of two weeks. Some individuals may find that their depressive episodes can last much longer than a few weeks. The two-week threshold is a minimum for a clinical diagnosis of major depressive disorder. 

Those suffering from a major depressive disorder may experience any of the following symptoms, or a combination of symptoms, during a depressive episode: 

  • Feelings of guilt
  • Insomnia
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Low appetite
  • Exhaustion/Fatigue
  • Lack of focus
  • Compromised feelings of self-worth
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Thoughts of self-harm or suicide

Major depressive disorder can manifest in anyone, either organically or as a result of personal trauma, loss, abuse, addiction, or internal or interpersonal conflict. Finding the source of such intense depression is essential for moving through the healing process. The varying sources of major depressive disorder accentuate the need for an individualized approach to recovery. For example, moving through major depressive disorder and trauma therapy is necessary for those whose depression may stem from losing a loved one or childhood abuse or neglect.

Persistent Depressive Disorder

Persistent depressive disorder is an even more intense depression that manifests as a prolonged, chronic major depressive disorder. While many of the symptoms listed above will be present, those suffering from persistent depressive disorder will experience depressive episodes lasting at least two years. Those suffering from persistent depressive disorder may find recovery difficult as some may have lost the perception of what happiness can feel like. However, it is possible to heal using a personalized approach and a series of therapeutic practices, which sometimes include medication-assisted therapy. 

Seasonal Affective Disorder 

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is often diagnosed when one’s emotional state or depressive episodes are tied to the seasons and occurs most often during winter when temperatures are low and daylight hours are few. Staying indoors and having limited access to natural light can have a drastic effect on one’s mood. There are standard practices that can help, including light therapy, lightboxes, and establishing daily routines applicable throughout all months of the year with the help of professionals. 

Although SAD is typically more common during the winter, some individuals experience similar symptoms during the summertime. The onset of summertime SAD can be due to increased social expectations. People are often more active during the summer. However, due to the increase in heat and humidity, some people might remain indoors, feeling that they are missing out. The symptoms of SAD are similar to those of other depressive disorders, except they coincide with seasonal changes, whether summer or winter. 

Atypical Depression

Atypical depression is generally caused by external sources. While those suffering from major depressive disorder can have difficulty finding joy in anything—even their own interests and hobbies—those suffering from atypical depression may still be able to find joy and relief in such practices. While a degree of happiness is possible during positive experiences, this burst of happiness is fleeting, and a low mood or fatigue may return quickly. With atypical depression, it can be difficult to maintain daily responsibilities or a prolonged sense of happiness.

Postpartum Depression

This kind of depression is unique to women and manifests following the delivery of a child. It is common for new mothers to feel a swell of emotions during this major life event, and it is possible that depression can occur even if the mother is excited about their infant. Postpartum depression can include feelings of low self-confidence, fatigue, and a sense of being overwhelmed. 

A woman with postpartum depression can also experience anxiety, irritability, mood swings, or excessive crying. For some new mothers, this depression can pass quickly. However, some new mothers may continue to feel the symptoms for extended periods. Having these symptoms for two weeks or more can be an indication to seek professional help to move through such a significant life change. 

Depression is a condition that many people suffer from, but that doesn’t mean that all depressions develop and present themselves in the same way. At Avalon Malibu, we understand the unique ways in which depression can affect your life. Our expert professionals are ready to help you create your own path in understanding and overcoming your depression. Your time with us can be personalized to fit your individual needs and goals with experiential therapies, such as art therapy, music therapy, physical wellness programs, and much more, all backed with tried and proven individual and group counseling sessions. Our supportive, community atmosphere provides a safe space for you to explore your own best practices and create a program focused on healing and betterment. For more information on how we can individualize your time with us or speak to a caring, trained professional about your unique situation, call us today at (844) 857-5992.

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