The different types of depression, explained

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According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 5% of adults worldwide suffer from depression.

This mental health disorder permeates all areas of life, from personal to academic and professional relationships, and goes far beyond typical mood swings and day-to-day worries.

Depression can affect anyone, but people who have experienced trauma, significant loss or high levels of stress are most at risk. Women are more prone to depression than men.

This overview will discuss different types of depression, their symptoms, and treatments.

Types of depression

According to the Cleveland Clinic, there are several types of depressive disorders, the most serious of which is clinical depression or major depressive disorder.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Association, provides a breakdown of the various depressive disorders. They are classified as follows:

  • Clinical depression
  • Persistent depressive disorder
  • Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder
  • Depressive disorder due to another medical condition.

This breakdown will help explain their similarities and nuances.

Clinical depression

Clinical depression, or major depressive disorder, is a debilitating mental health condition characterized by persistent and intense sadness, hopelessness, and loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities.

According to the Mayo Clinic, people with clinical depression may experience changes in appetite and sleep patterns, an inability to concentrate, and may contemplate or exhibit suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

“Clinical depression tends not to resolve itself for very long periods of time,” said New York psychiatrist Dr. Gail Saltz, a clinical associate professor at Weill-Cornell Medical College. “It can last for months or even years and during that time it impairs the person’s functioning. It can impair functioning at work and in relationships and, of course, it also causes terrible suffering to the person affected.”

Additionally, she added: “For those with severe clinical depression, up to 15 percent will die by suicide, which means depression can be a life-threatening disease if left untreated. And left untreated. [it] it makes the likelihood of a relapse with depression more likely later in life.”

Persistent depressive disorder or PDD

Persistent depressive disorder, or PDD, is a chronic form of depression characterized by persistent low mood and a sense of hopelessness that lasts for at least two years, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Individuals with PDD may experience fluctuating periods of mild to moderate depressive symptoms, disrupting their daily life and general well-being.

Symptoms can include loss of interest in previously pleasurable activities, changes in appetite or sleep patterns, low energy, difficulty concentrating, and feelings of worthlessness.

Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder, or DMDD

Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder, or DMDD, is diagnosed primarily in children and adolescents, according to the US National Institute of Mental Health. It is characterized by severe and recurring tantrums that are out of proportion to the situation and inconsistent with developmental age. Between outbursts, juveniles may exhibit persistent irritability or anger. Symptoms of DMDD can significantly impair a child’s daily functioning, social interactions, and academic performance.

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder or PMDD

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder, or PMDD, is a cyclical mood disorder characterized by severe emotional and physical symptoms in the days leading up to menstruation, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. During this time, women may experience intense mood swings, irritability, sadness, anxiety, and a sense of hopelessness.

Depression due to a medical condition

Tufts Medical Center describes depressive disorder due to another medical condition as a depressive episode caused by an underlying medical condition. This condition could be a chronic illness, a neurological disorder, a hormonal imbalance, or related to substance abuse. The exact cause is usually unknown, however. While the symptoms may be similar to those of major depressive disorder, they are specifically linked to the physiological effects of the underlying medical condition.

Treatments for depression

There are many options to help people manage symptoms and improve their quality of life, according to a report on, a German government health site referenced by the US National Center for Biotechnology Information. Treatments include several approaches, including medications, therapy, and lifestyle changes. Medications such as antidepressants may be prescribed to relieve symptoms, while therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), can help deal with negative thoughts and behavior patterns.

Lifestyle changes such as regular exercise, adequate sleep, and a healthy diet can complement other treatments and promote overall well-being. The choice of specific treatment depends on the severity of the symptoms and guidance from healthcare professionals.

Seek help if needed

Depression is a disease involving the brain, according to the United States Department of Health and Human Services. Even mild depression can become more severe if left untreated. That’s why it’s important to ask for help and support. You can talk to your doctor, who may refer you to a mental health professional for medicine or talk therapy.

With various treatment options available, including therapy, medications and support networks, a qualified healthcare professional can advise you on the best course of action for your situation. Remember, you are not alone.

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