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Types of Depression

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Updated May 23, 2014

Young woman sitting on edge of bed, holding head in hand
Mark Douet/Stone/Getty Images
Depression is probably the most common psychological disorder and the one that receives the most attention. Lately, we hear about millions of Americans being treated with Prozac and a multitude of other antidepressants. Everybody seems to know someone who is depressed whether a family member, a close friend or a co-worker.
Depression makes a person feel sad, hopeless, worthless, pessimistic and guilty. Often the sufferer has difficulty concentrating and making decisions, has a loss of appetite and weight or a weight gain, has difficulty sleeping, has a lack of energy and sometimes physical symptoms such as slow movement and speech. Depression must be taken seriously because of the high rate of suicide associated with it.
Many people are not aware of the many types of depression besides what is termed unipolar depression where the sufferer feels melancholic and never feels any highs. A brief description of manic depression (bipolar disorder), major depression, atypical depression, psychotic depression and dysthymia are discussed below.

Major Depression:

Major depression is probably one of the most common forms of depression. You probably know a handful of people who suffer from it. The sufferer seems to walk around with the weight of the world on his or her shoulders. He or she seems disinterested in becoming involved in regular activities and seems convinced that he or she will always be in this hopeless state. There is a lack of interest in sexual activity and in appetite and a weight loss.

Atypical Depression:

Atypical depression is a variation of depression that is slightly different from major depression. The sufferer is sometimes able to experience happiness and moments of elation. Symptoms of atypical depression include fatigue, oversleeping, overeating and weight gain. People who suffer from atypical depression believe that outside events control their mood (i.e. success, attention and praise). Episodes of atypical depression can last for months or a sufferer may live with it forever.

Psychotic Depression:

Sufferers of psychotic depression begin to hear and see imaginary things - - sounds, voices and visuals that do not exist. These are referred to as hallucinations, which are generally more common with someone suffering from schizophrenia. The hallucinations are not "positive" like they are with a manic depressive. The sufferer of psychotic depression imagines frightening and negative sounds and images.

Dysthymia:

Many people just walk around seeming depressed - - simply sad, blue or melancholic. They have been this way all of their lives. This is dysthymia - - a condition that people are not even aware of but just live with daily. They go through life feeling unimportant, dissatisfied, frightened and simply don't enjoy their lives. Medication is beneficial for this type of depression.

Manic Depression:

Manic depression can be defined as an emotional disorder characterized by changing mood shifts from depression to mania which can sometimes be quite rapid. People who suffer from manic depression have an extremely high rate of suicide.

About the Author:

Andy Behrman is the author of "Electroboy: A Memoir of Mania," published by Random House, which is being made into a film with Tobey Maguire. Andy maintains a website at http://www.electroboy.com/
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