As crummy as it feels to go through a day or two of feeling low, those fleeting moments of sadness don’t even come close to depression. This disorder can lead to extreme fatigue and an overwhelming sadness that prevents someone from enjoying things they once loved. And it’s pretty common, affecting over 26% of American adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But that’s really oversimplifying things, because there’s more than just one type of depression. Since mental illness is so prevalent, it’s important to know about these five types of depression in case you or someone you know may be suffering.
1. Major depression
Major, or clinical, depression is a very serious mood disorder that WebMD says affects 20% to 25% of adults at some point. It can interfere with daily tasks, including work, school, eating, and sleeping. If left untreated, major depression can last for weeks, months, or even years. Symptoms include energy loss, insomnia, restlessness, and feelings of guilt or worthlessness. It can also cause loss of interest in spending time with friends and loved ones and even changes in weight.
Interestingly, clinical depression can be generational. It may also be triggered by significant life events. This includes relationship conflicts, social isolation, abuse, or loss of a loved one. It’s important to see a doctor for treatment recommendations if any of this sounds like you.
Also known as persistent depressive disorder, dysthymia shares some common symptoms with major depression. This includes lack of energy and concentration, no desire to take part in fun activities, and weight loss or gain. Harvard Health Publications mentions those with dysthymia constantly feel as if they’re going in and out of depression. It may be less severe than clinical depression, but it usually lasts longer. People with persistent depressive disorder can be very irritable and are more likely to develop major depression as well. Though there’s no way to prevent it, the combined use of medication and psychotherapy is usually a good option for treatment.
3. Postpartum depression
Women who’ve given birth may experience postpartum depression as soon as a few days after birth or not for several months, so it’s definitely important for mothers to pay attention to how they feel after delivery. The National Institute of Mental Health says this type of depression often causes extreme sadness, exhaustion, or anxiety. Women may also cry for no reason, oversleep, and may have difficulty developing an emotional attachment to their children. If left untreated, it can last for months or even years. Treatment may include antidepressant medication or counseling. If you feel these extreme symptoms after childbirth, be sure to see a health care provider to help decide what’s best for you.
4. Seasonal depression
Seasonal depression, or seasonal affective disorder, typically occurs during the winter months. WebMD says those with this disorder often feel moody, sad, and anxious during the colder months. Seasonal depression can also boost cravings for high-carb foods like bread and pasta. While it can affect anyone, it’s most common among women and those between the ages of 15 and 55.
The cause isn’t totally understood, but it may have to do with the lack of sunlight. Light therapy, antidepressants, and counseling may be used to help treat seasonal depression. Speak with your doctor if you notice the change in seasons taking an unusual toll on your mood.
5. High-functioning depression
Depression isn’t always easy to spot. In fact, some people who have it can appear completely happy and successful on the outside. But behind closed doors, they can be having a hard time. This is known as high-functioning depression. It’s a form of mental illness where people can complete tasks and carry out normal, everyday activities even though they feel depressed. One doctor told Well + Good she typically sees it among women who strive for perfection. It’s not easy to recognize, but some things to look out for include irritability, jokes that appear out of character, or constantly seeming detached. Meditation, speaking to a therapist, and prescribed medications can be useful. If you think you may have high-functioning depression, don’t be afraid to seek help.