Types of Depression
Feeling down, having the blues; we’ve all been there. Just about everyone feels a little sad once in a while. Under appropriate circumstances, such as the recent loss of a loved one, for instance, it’s entirely natural and understandable to feel grief, to mourn, to be sad. But when these kinds of feelings linger not a day or two, but for weeks, and a numbing sense of low energy settles in, you might be suffering from more than sadness. You may be depressed.
Depression is common. And if left untreated, it can become disabling. Doctors have identified several categories of depression. Major depressive disorder, or major depression, is potentially serious. It warrants medial attention. Modern treatments have encouraged this illness to emerge from the shadows and has allowed many patients to recover and reclaim their normal lives. Therapies range from nutritional interventions (fish oil appears to help in both the prevention and treatment of depression, for example), to modern antidepressant drugs, to psychotherapy.
Dysthymia is a milder form of depression. Patients may experience symptoms for two or more years that have not yet become disabling. People with dysthymia may have trouble functioning at times, or they may not feel well, but they can usually manage day-to-day living. Minor depression is depression that lasts for two weeks or more, but has not yet warranted a diagnosis of major depression. People with this condition are at increased risk for major depression, if left untreated.
Other forms of depression include seasonal affective disorder (SAD) which occurs only seasonally (and may respond to vitamin D supplementation and/or light therapy), and postpartum depression, which can affect new mothers in the days and weeks after delivering a baby. Up to 15% of women suffer this potentially serious form of depression. Like other depressive illnesses, it’s important to seek medical help if you suspect you or someone you know suffers from clinical depression. In most cases, ignoring it won’t help, and may make it worse.