Depression is a tricky disease. Sometimes it can be caused by an underlying physical problem or  by a traumatic event. Sometimes there is no discernible cause of depression.

There are a few different types of depression, each with varying symptoms and levels of intensity. Here we will explore them in detail.  Patients must have five or more of the listed symptoms with each lasting for a period of at least two weeks at a time.

Major Depression:

  • Depressed mood that lasts most of the day
  • Lack of interest in activities you normally enjoy
  • Significant change in weight (due to change in appetite)
  • Change in sleep patterns (either sleeping all the time or hardly at all)
  • Fatigue/loss of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, and helplessness
  • Reduced concentration
  • Thoughts of death/suicide

It should be noted that once you have a major depressive episode, the chances of you having another one in the future increases.

Dysthymia (dis-THIE-me-uh):

  • Depressed mood for more days than not for a period of at least 2 years
  • Low self-esteem
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Low energy
  • Reduced concentration
  • Changes in sleep pattern
  • Changes in appetite

Also known as Persistent Depressive Disorder, dysthymia is a continuous form of depression that interferes with your daily life, although not as severe as Major Depression.

Bipolar Depression:

A patient will have periods of depression but also periods of mania or hypomania.  Any of the above symptoms as well as the following symptoms lasting at least 4-7 days:

  • Fast talking
  • Impulsive choices that can be self-destructive
  • High but unproductive energy
  • Racing thoughts
  • Lack of sleep

Seasonal Affective Disorder (Seasonal Depression):

  • Depressed mood
  • Sleeping excessively
  • Fatigue/lack of energy
  • Decreased activity
  • Loss of libido
  • Increased appetite
  • Cravings for carbs
  • Weight gain
  • Agitation or irritability
  • Recurrent thoughts of death

Seasonal depression can happen any time of the year, but it is most common in winter. It will often repeat every year in order to differential from Major Depressive Disorder.

So you think you have depression? What do you do? I would recommend searching for a mental health professional who can provide you with a psychiatric diagnosis. Then I would start researching the treatment options that are right for you. Find a provider who will look at your thyroid and vitamin levels. Medication and counseling are very effective in the treatment of depression, especially when done together.  It’s important to find someone that will take the time to listen to you and earn your trust. Major Depression is one of the leading causes of disability worldwide. It’s important to take aggressive steps to get treatment early!

I treat patients with depression at my office in Kirksville. Otherwise I would search for mental health professionals in your area!

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