Understanding Types of Clinical Depression

The following types of clinical depression are all treatable:

  • Major Depressive Disorder A period of at least 2 weeks with a significant change in mood marked by feeling sad, empty, or anxious; loss of interest or pleasure in life; decreased energy, sex drive, or sleep; changes in appetite or body weight; mental dullness or diminished concentration; or morbid thoughts.  Often triggered by a significant event, but sometimes occurs seemingly for no reason.
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder – A type of depression that tends to be worse from fall until spring, but can exist throughout the year.  It is often characterized by “atypical” symptoms including awakening feeling fatigued, lethargy, carbohydrate cravings, and weight gain.
  • DysthymiaAlso some times referred to as “Minor Depression,” this disorder is a chronic pattern of mild depression occurring for more days than not for at least 2 years.  Often characterized by pessimism, feeling easily overwhelmed or frustrated, or disappointment.
  • Bipolar Disorder – Extreme changes in mood resulting in both periods of depression and mania.  Mania is characterized by elevated or irritable mood, racing thoughts, increased energy or activity, or risky behaviors and poor judgment.  Often, people are unaware of being in a manic state.
  • Adjustment Disorder Emotional difficulties related to a significant life event such as a relationship or legal problem.  Can include symptoms of depression that interfere with the ability to function fully.
  • Grief Reaction Although a grief reaction to a major loss is not technically a type of clinical depression, it can include many similar symptoms and professional treatment is sometimes warranted.

Clinical depression can also be caused by medical conditions and substances (including alcohol, drugs and prescribed medications).  These types of depression are also treatable.  This information is provided as a general guide and not intended for self-diagnosis.  If you believe you or a loved one is depressed, professional evaluation is recommended because of the serious problems that untreated depression can cause (including death).
For more information about depression and free publications from the NIMH, go to www.nimh.