Depression is a complex mental health condition that manifests in several different forms, each with its own unique set of symptoms, causes, and treatment options.
While a shared sense of lethargy and listlessness is common across all types of depression, the severity, cause, and treatment approach can significantly differ. Therefore, correctly identifying the type of depression you're experiencing is crucial to devising an effective treatment plan.
At Bristol Health, we understand the importance of accurately diagnosing your specific type of depression in order to determine the most effective treatment plan for you.
The types of depression include:
Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), also known as clinical depression, is a mood disorder that causes persistent feelings of sadness and a loss of interest in daily activities. MDD can affect how you think, behave, and interact with others, leading to challenges in various aspects of life.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depressive disorders are a leading cause of mental disability worldwide. In the United States alone, an estimated 21 million adults (8.4% of the adult population) experienced at least one major depressive episode in 2020. While some people may experience only one episode, many others go through multiple bouts of depression throughout their lives.
Identifying and Diagnosing Major Depressive Disorder
MDD is more than just feeling sad or melancholic; it is characterized by unrelenting feelings of despair that can affect mood, behavior, sleep habits, and appetite.
Diagnosing MDD involves evaluating the type and duration of symptoms experienced by an individual. A healthcare provider may diagnose MDD if you exhibit one or more of the following symptoms:
- Persistent low or depressed mood
- Decreased interest in pleasurable activities (anhedonia)
- Lack of energy and poor concentration
- Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
- Appetite changes and sleep disturbances
- Reduced cognitive functioning (e.g., attention, decision-making, memory lapses)
- Suicidal thoughts or emotional numbness
- Physical problems, such as headaches and chronic pain
Risks and Impacts of Major Depressive Disorder
Untreated depression can lead to severe functional impairments that affect interpersonal relationships and exacerbate pre-existing medical conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease.
Women may be at a higher risk for depressive disorders than men, with hormonal changes during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause contributing to the development of MDD.
Treatment Options for Major Depressive Disorder
Treatment for MDD depends on the severity and pattern of depressive episodes and often involves a combination of medication and psychotherapy.
- Antidepressants: These medications are typically the first line of treatment for depressive disorders. Finding the right medication may require trial and error, as it depends on individual symptoms, response to treatment, and sensitivity to side effects.
- Psychotherapy: Talk therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or interpersonal therapy, can help individuals regain self-confidence and feel more in control of their lives.
- Alternative therapies: Combination treatments, ketamine infusions, and Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) are among the evolving options for managing depression.
Treatment-resistant depression (TRD) occurs when an individual experiences an inadequate response to at least two antidepressants or treatments. It doesn't mean that no treatment will work, but rather that finding the right treatment may take more time. Approximately 1 in 3 adults with major depressive disorder (MDD) in the United States also have TRD, affecting about 2.8 million people.
For two-thirds of individuals, the first antidepressant they try may not provide relief, which is why we will explore multiple treatment options with you.
Diagnosing Treatment-Resistant Depression
TRD can be challenging to define, with some experts requiring a lack of response to two different antidepressants from different classes. In contrast, others require at least four different types of treatments to have shown no (or inadequate) response.
It is crucial to remember that antidepressants can take four to eight weeks to show full effects, and dosage may need adjustment. TRD is typically diagnosed in individuals who have already been diagnosed with another form of depression.
Risk Factors for Treatment-Resistant Depression
Several factors can increase the likelihood of developing TRD:
- Gender: Women experience TRD at higher rates than men, likely due to biological and psychological reasons.
- Age: Senior citizens have higher rates of TRD than younger individuals.
- Coexisting conditions: Eating disorders, sleep disorders, or substance abuse concerns can complicate depression treatment.
- Medical illnesses: Chronic pain and thyroid disease are associated with higher rates of TRD.
- Early onset: Early onset of depression can increase the risk of developing TRD.
Additionally, individuals with frequent and recurring depression episodes and long-lasting episodes may be at risk for TRD.
Treatment Options for Treatment-Resistant Depression
At Bristol Health, we work to find the right treatment option that provides you with relief from your symptoms. Treatment options may include:
- Lifestyle Changes
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression triggered by seasonal changes, typically beginning in the fall and lasting through winter. SAD affects approximately 5% of adults in the US, with women experiencing it four times more than men.
At Bristol Health, we take a holistic approach to treating depressive disorders, helping patients regain their well-being.
Susceptibility and Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder
SAD usually starts and ends around the same time each year, sapping energy and causing moodiness. Symptoms worsen during late fall and early winter, easing in spring. In rare cases, individuals may experience SAD in spring or early summer, known as summer-pattern SAD or summer depression.
Younger people are more susceptible to SAD, and risk factors include having other mood disorders, relatives with seasonal depression or mental health conditions, living far from the equator, and residing in perpetually cloudy regions.
SAD symptoms include those associated with major depression, with specific symptoms differing for winter-pattern and summer-pattern SAD.
Symptoms of major depression may include:
- Feeling depressed most of the day
- Low energy
- Difficulty concentrating
- Loss of interest in activities
- Appetite or weight changes
- Sleep problems
- Suicidal thoughts
Winter-pattern SAD symptoms may include:
- Overeating (with carbohydrate cravings)
- Weight gain
- Social withdrawal
Summer-pattern SAD symptoms may involve:
- Trouble sleeping
- Poor appetite
- Episodes of violent behavior
Causes and Treatment of Seasonal Affective Disorder
While no specific cause has been identified for SAD, factors such as decreased sunlight during winter months, shifts in biological clocks, serotonin and melatonin levels, and negative thoughts about cold months may contribute to its occurrence.
For a confirmed SAD diagnosis, individuals must have symptoms of major depression, depressive episodes during specific seasons for at least two consecutive years, and more frequent depressive episodes during a specific season than the rest of the year.
Treatment options for SAD can include light therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (talk therapy), antidepressant medications, spending time outdoors, and vitamin D supplements.
Postpartum depression (PPD) is a form of major depression affecting pregnant women within four weeks of giving birth. It is caused by a complex mix of physical, emotional, and behavioral changes. Timely treatment is crucial to managing symptoms and bonding with your baby.
What is Postpartum Depression?
PPD may be linked to chemical, social, and psychological changes after having a baby. It is more severe and longer-lasting than the 'baby blues,' which affects up to 80% of parents and usually resolves within two weeks.
If your feelings of sadness persist beyond two weeks, consult your healthcare provider for a PPD evaluation.
PPD symptoms include:
- Hopelessness, sadness, or worthlessness
- Frequent crying and isolation
- Feeling inadequate as a mom
- Lack of bonding with your baby
- Sleep issues and severe fatigue
- Anxiety, panic attacks, and mood changes
Causes and Treatment of Postpartum Depression
There is no single cause for PPD, but genetics, physical changes, and emotional concerns may be contributing factors. Treatment options include antidepressant medications, talk therapy, and other forms of emotional support. The severity of your symptoms will determine the appropriate treatment.
Untreated PPD can develop into chronic depressive disorder, making it vital that you seek help quickly.
Proper care and treatment can help resolve the situation. Bristol Health provides comprehensive mental health treatments for PPD and other depressive disorders.
Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD), also known as dysthymia or chronic major depression, is a long-term, mild to moderate depression that can interfere with daily activities, relationships, and overall well-being. Symptoms of PDD last for years and affect approximately 3% of the U.S. population.
Symptoms of Persistent Depressive Disorder
PDD symptoms are less severe than major depressive disorder but are continuous and long-lasting. They include:
- Sadness, emptiness, or feeling down
- Loss of interest in daily activities
- Fatigue and low energy
- Low self-esteem and self-criticism
- Concentration difficulties
- Irritability and social avoidance
- Guilt and rumination over the past
- Appetite and sleep problems
Causes and Treatment of Persistent Depressive Disorder
The exact cause of PDD is unknown, but it may be related to low serotonin levels and can be triggered by traumatic life events. PDD is more common in women and often runs in families.
Diagnosis involves interviews with your healthcare provider and possibly blood or urine tests to rule out other causes. Treatment typically combines medication with talk therapy, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), to help examine thoughts, emotions, and their impact on behavior.
Are you or a loved one struggling with depression? It's time to take the first step towards better mental health.
Get in touch with Bristol Health at (801) 903-5903 or request an appointment today to learn how our experienced team can assist you in managing various types of depression in Utah County. Don't let depression hold you back - reach out to Bristol Health and start your journey towards a happier, healthier life.