Depression

This article describes the various types of depression, including major depresion, dysthymic disorder, non-specific depression, adjustment disorder with depression and bi-polar depression. It also provides links to all depressive disorders.

Please use the menu on the left sidebar to access information about specific depressive disorders.

Depression is one of the most common psychological problems, affecting nearly everyone through either personal experience or family involvement. Most people have a sense of depression being related to a sad mood, but it is much more than that. It is normal for our moods to fluctuate, and every time we are sad, we are not "depressed."

Depression is a psychological condition that changes how you think and feel, and also affects your social behavior and sense of physical well-being. We have all felt sad at one time or another, but that is not depression. Sometimes we feel tired from working hard, or discouraged when faced with serious problems. This too, is not depression. These feelings usually pass within a few days or weeks, once we adjust to the stress. But, if these feelings linger, intensify, and begin to interfere with work, school or family responsibilities, it may be depression.

Depression can affect anyone. Once identified, most people with depression are successfully treated. Unfortunately, depression is not always diagnosed, because many of the symptoms mimic physical malaise, such as sleep and appetite disturbances. Recognizing depression is the first step in treating it.

Identifying the Symptoms of Depression

The symptoms of depression may vary from person to person, and also depend on the severity of the depression. Depression causes changes in thinking, feeling, behavior, and physical well-being.

Changes in Thinking - You may experience difficulty with concentration and decision making. Some people report problems with short term memory. Negative thoughts and thinking are characteristic of depression. Pessimism, poor self-esteem, excessive guilt, and self-criticism are all common. Some people have self-destructive thoughts during a more serious depression.

Changes in Feelings - Many people report feeling sad for no reason. Others report that they no longer enjoy activities that they once found pleasureable. You might lack motivation, becoming more apathetic. Sometimes irritability is a problem, and you may have more difficulty controlling your temper. In the extreme, clinical depression is characterized by feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.

Changes in Behavior - The changes in behavior common during depression are reflective of the negative emotions you experience. You might act more apathetic, because that's how you feel. Some people do not feel comfortable with other people, so social withdrawal is common. Some people complain about everything, and act out their anger with temper outbursts. Sexual desire may disappear, resulting in lack of sexual activity. In the extreme, people may neglect their personal appearance, even neglecting basic hygiene. Needless to say, someone who is this depressed does not do very much, so work productivity and household responsibilities suffer. Some people even have trouble getting out of bed.

Changes in Physical Well-Being - We already talked about the negative emotional feelings experienced during depression, but these are coupled with negative physical emotions as well. Chronic fatigue, despite spending more time sleeping, is common. Some people can't sleep, or don't sleep soundly. These individuals lay awake for hours, or awaken many times during the night, and stare at the ceiling. Others sleep many hours, even most of the day, although they still feel tired. Many people lose their appetite, feel slowed down by depression, and complain of many aches and pains. Others are restless, and can't sit still.

Now imagine these symptoms lasting for weeks or even months. Imagine feeling this way almost all of the time. If many of these symptoms are present for at least several weeks, you are probably depressed.

Bi-polar depression is a very different and more complicated form of depression with many unique problems. Formerly called manic-depressive disorder, bipolar depression is a type of depression, and usually includes depressive episodes as well as hypomanic episodes

Of course, it's not a good idea to diagnose yourself. If you think you might be depressed, see a psychologist soon. A psychologist can assess whether you are depressed, or just under a lot of stress and feeling a little sadness. Remember, depression is treatable. Instead of worrying about whether you are depressed, go do something about it. Even if you don't feel like it right now.

Types of Depression

There are several different diagnoses for depression, mostly determined by the intensity of the symptoms, the duration of the symptoms, and the specific cause of the symptoms, if that is known. Dr. Franklin provides treatment for the following depressive disorders:

  • Major Depression
  • Dysthymic Disorder
  • Depression, unspecified
  • Reactive Depression (Adjustment Disorder, with Depression)
  • Bipolar Depression

Major Depression versus other Depressions

The differences between Major Depression and other depressions, such as bipolar depression, dysthymia, or reactive depression, are more important for psychologists planning treatment, and are of less concern to the average person. When you review the list of symptoms for major depression, and you have four symptom clusters, instead of five, you should not ignore it or forget about it.  Moderate Depression is not a separate diagnosis, so if the symptoms do not fit a specific category, the depression is simply called "unspecified." Ask yourself this question: "Does the depression interfere with my life, my relationships, my productivity or my happiness?" If depression is interfering with your life, then don't wait, talk to a psychologist soon.

For more information, please call (908) 526-8111.