To say that depression is widespread these days is to underscore just how pervasive the phenomenon has become across modern society. In fact, the World Health Organization estimates that around 300 million people suffer from depression, making it the leading cause of disability worldwide. But while the word itself is useful as an umbrella term, ‘depression’ actually comes in many forms. To that end, let’s take a look at some of the most common types of depression and how each can be overcome:

1. Major Depression

In order to be diagnosed with major depression, you must feel depressed for most of the time on a majority of days for at least two weeks. Its main symptoms include loss of interest in previously pleasurable activities, a general feeling of tiredness, trouble concentrating or making decisions and even thoughts of suicide. Major depression is nothing to joke about, but it can be treated with conventional talk-therapy sessions as well as with antidepressant medication. If those don’t pan out, transcranial magnetic stimulation has shown great potential whilst being non-invasive and fairly effective in most cases.

2. Persistent Depressive Disorder

If you experience depression that lasts for more than 2 years, you may have what is known as a persistent depressive disorder. This term refers to both suffers of low-grade depression and those with chronic major depression. PDD can be treatment-resistant, and is characterized by many of the same traits as major depression. Those afflicted need to be particularly careful about what kind of lifestyle they lead. In addition to therapy and medication, maintaining a healthy sleep schedule and engaging in regular workouts can do a lot of good. Experiencing positive emotions is key, and can be done by following the principles of the broaden-and-build theory.

3. Situational Depression

Even if you’ve never had a major depressive episode or a persistent form of depression, chances are that you’ve felt low as a result of certain situations in your life that were beyond your control (death of a loved one, loss of employment, end of a relationship etc.). Sometimes the sadness and helplessness from such situations lingers, and then you have yourself a case of situational depression. For many people, even the thought of going to work every Monday can trigger dread and anxiety, as the famous Sunday Night Blues phenomenon can attest to. The trick here is to recognize these feelings as fleeting, and to seek out help if they become persistent or recurring. Avoid pushing yourself too hard during these times, and take steps to implement small but consistent changes in your life.

4. Seasonal Affective Disorder

We human beings are cyclical creatures, more sensitive to the fluctuations of weather and light than we usually admit to. That explains why Seasonal Affective Depression (SAD) is so widespread, with many people experiencing lower moods in the wintertime when the days are shorter and sunlight is a rare occurrence. For this type of affliction, certain fast-acting antidepressants can help you bear those grueling months. So can light therapy, which works by exposing you to concentrated bursts of powerful artificial light for a prescribed amount of time.

5. Postpartum Depression

Giving birth is one of life’s greatest miracles, but it’s also a painful and laborious effort that leaves many moms feeling depleted after their babies have left the womb. The hormonal changes alone can be difficult to handle, not to mention the lack of sleep and the pressure of taking care of a helpless newborn. Quick mood swings, fatigue and sadness characterize postpartum depression, but if these feelings persist for more than a couple of weeks you will need to address them through therapy and/or medication so you can be there for yourself and your child.

6. Psychotic Depression

The last form of depression we’ll cover is also possibly the most severe. Psychotic depression, as its name suggests, often comes as a result of a breakdown, and is typically accompanied by hallucinations, delusions and paranoia. And it’s more commonplace than you think, with about 1 in 13 people worldwide experiencing a psychotic episode before the age of 75. Needless to say, in this situation a trip to the ER is required, where antipsychotic medication will be administered prior to going on a long-term treatment for depression.

That concludes our quick overview of the main forms of depression. It’s worth adding that there other types such as premenstrual dysphoric disorder and atypical depression to consider, as well as various combinations of depression with other types of psychological ailments. The subject is indeed complex, but with the right education and a genuine desire to get better, the symptoms of depression can greatly be alleviated. So if you or someone you know is showing signs of this pervasive mental condition, be sure to seek treatment as soon as possible, and know that just by asking for help you’re already on the right track.

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