Health & Wellness Articles

Types of Depression & Available Treatments

Find the Best Treatment for Your Condition

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Although people with depression may exhibit many of the same symptoms, thoughts and feelings, there are actually several different types of depression. Your doctor can evaluate your symptoms to make a proper diagnosis. Each type of depression has different patterns, triggers, diagnostic criteria and treatment methods.

Major Depression, which affects about 25% of people at least once in their lifetime, interferes with one’s ability to work, study, sleep, eat and enjoy once pleasurable activities. Many common life changes can trigger major depression, such as losing a loved one (death, divorce, break-ups), fighting with someone, moving, graduating, changing careers, and retiring. Abuse (physical, mental or sexual) and social isolation are also common causes. Antidepressant medication and talk therapy are common treatments for this form of depression.

Chronic Depression, also called dysthymia, is a relatively mild but chronic form of depression that affects over 10 million Americans. People with chronic depression are able to function in their daily lives, but have extreme difficulty finding pleasure in normal activities, and experience feelings of sadness and emptiness that may persist for years. Some people with chronic depression find talk therapy alone to be effective, but antidepressant medications can also help.

Double Depression describes the condition of a person who experiences both major depression and chronic depression at the same time. Typically, people with double depression experience a bout of major depression for a while, followed by the milder chronic depression.

Seasonal Depression, known as Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD, typically occurs during the colder, darker months (but can rarely occur during the summer). People with SAD experience depressive symptoms at the same time each year. Treatment can involve talk therapy, antidepressants, and light therapy. Lifestyle changes can also prevent the onset of SAD.
Other serious forms of depression that are less common include manic depression (bipolar disorder), psychotic depression (depression accompanied by hallucinations and delusions), and postpartum depression.

No matter what form your depression takes, talk with your health care provider to find the best treatment plan for you.

Treatment Options for Depression
Your doctor will likely try a combination of methods to treat your depression. Discuss the following treatment options with your doctor to find out what will work best for you. A combination of medication and therapy is the most common treatment method.

Medication
There are several different types of antidepressant medications, and they all work a little differently. It will take a few weeks for a medication to take effect and for your doctor to find the best dosage for you—to maximize benefits and minimize side effects. Whatever medication you use, be sure to follow the directions closely. Some require dietary changes to avoid food-drug interaction, for example. Once you start feeling better, you may think you no longer need your medication. But you should never change your dosage or discontinue using antidepressants until your doctor explains how to do so safely while also preventing a recurrence of symptoms.
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About The Author

Nicole Nichols Nicole Nichols
Nicole was named "America's Top Personal Trainer to Watch" in 2011. A certified personal trainer and fitness instructor with a bachelor's degree in health education, she loves living a healthy and fit lifestyle and helping others do the same. Her DVDs "Total Body Sculpting" and "28 Day Boot Camp" (a best seller) are available online and in stores nationwide. Read Nicole's full bio and blog posts.

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Member Comments

  • My depression comes and goes. Growing up being 'depressed' was a bad word being that my Grandmother was often hospitalized for her depression.
    I attempt to read positive things and exercise to overcome it, but today at work it I am not able to. - 8/1/2014 1:43:42 PM
  • HARJEETGREWAL
    hello,i am working in a marketing company and my job contains too much stress and workload,

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    - 8/1/2013 3:52:59 AM
  • You did not mention "reactive depression" which results from having many stresses thrown at you all at the same time. My Dr. told me I had that when I was a newlywed many years ago. - 7/17/2013 5:54:45 PM
  • I'm surprised this article doesn't address so-called "atypical depression." It's probably the most common type of depression; it's just called "atypical" because it doesn't tend to respond to the same medications people were coming up with for major depression.

    Some of things that distinguish atypical depression are constantly overeating, sleeping too much, and feeling like the limbs are far too heavy for exercise. Seems like it'd be worth mentioning on a site for people who've been having trouble eating well and getting fit. - 9/14/2012 6:59:48 PM
  • I know that this was meant as information but I think this is a discussion that one's self and their DOCTOR or PSYCHAITRIST / PSYCHOLOGIST to be having. - 5/2/2011 9:35:37 PM
  • MARTY32M
    To begin with, saying that "alternative therapies ... are most effective when combined with medication and psychotherapy" is like saying stone soup is better with cabbage, carrots and a ham bone. The working ingredients are the medication and psychotherapy. Which treatment you get may depend more on who you go to than on what would work best for you.

    Non-M.D. psychotherapists are not allowed to prescribe drugs, so they give you talk therapy. That takes a long time to work. Because medical reimbursements are limited, you could be forced to quit before the psychotherapy has done its work, if it would even work at all. But if talk therapy works for you, and you can finish it, you could stop treatment and walk away from the problem.

    M.D. psychiatrists have to earn back the cost of their training. If your medical plan is paying them, psychotherapy will take many hours with limited payment and you might have to quit before you're better. Medication, if it works, shows immediate results, and it pays better because they can prescribe medications after a relatively brief consultation and see more patients. Drug companies profit from medication, not from talk therapy. Their profits come from your drug plan, and when the drug plan stops paying and you stop taking the medications your depression will return.

    Since the profits and costs of medication vs. psychotherapy accrue to different persons and groups, nobody has an incentive to invest in studies that compare their cost and effectiveness. You're on your own, and if you're already depressed you're not likely to have the resources to make an informed choice. - 3/9/2011 12:37:26 PM
  • SHAI7868
    Thank you for this article. I have never been a part of a community like this before, but, I am learning that it is important to open up and share, or the entire life experience as a whole can swallow me up. Now that the 40's are upon me, I have found that I am not only overweight - which makes me constantly self conscious of my appearance, but, I have been chronically depressed for some time. I have been struggling with reaching out for help and this article has helped me know that I am not alone. I have had a lot of regret in my life, have always worked hard to live to a standard that would make others proud of me and have not taken time to appreciate all that I am blessed to have and embrace it -I am even learning, now that it is important to embrace the mistakes and tragedies my life has had, because they have made me stronger, and wiser. I am going to seek help for my problem with depression. My husband, and my children deserve a wife and mom who can enjoy them. I find myself so terribly irritable for reasons I don't even understand, and my reactions to life seem to be overly reactive - more so lately than ever. I have been so ashamed to admit that I have this problem, and have become exhausted with "covering" it up...I am truly inspired to get some help from somewhere so that I can begin living life, and not just existing in it. Thank you for this website and this article....it is reaching out and helping people like me take stock in my life, and own up to not appreciating it like I should. - 7/27/2009 4:14:36 AM
  • That's great! You've found the right "formula" , one that works for you and has made your quality of life not merely tolerable, but - from the looks of the happy mom in the picture, on the beach with her two children - I'd say wonderful too.

    I suffer from bipolar type 1, so you can probably imagine that yes, I would have major depressions. But I also have dysthymia, even when I'm "level" which I've managed to control with a very basic method necessity taught me after the birth of my first child, my son, Ian, at 41. It's your standard "fake it 'til you make it" attitude and lot of self taught behavior modification.
    I
    wake and as soon as I've shaken off enough of the fairy dust to realize what day it is and how soon my responsibilities to others are going to start I roll my eyes, take deep breath, head for the coffee machine and count my blessing every day.
    I'm a concoction person by nature (who ever heard of peanut butter mayonaise and tomatoes on 7 grain bread before?) so I guess it makes sense that each day I need to take a kind of medication soup mix. I have fibromyalgia and need meds for that too, and one of them is (guess what?) an antidepressant that works on pain - one of the tricyclics.
    The I take Wellbutrin which alone doesn't work for the likes of me so they got about the big guns and added Effexor, and finally Topamax to help with my bipolar disorder, and of course, to "elevate my mood". And as if that list isn't long enough, I'm on Methadone
    FOR PAIN - not for any addiction problem, Abilify s the primary med for the bipolar,
    and occaisionally Ambien for sleep.

    But at 47, with a five year old child recently diagnosed with high functioning Autism, I am mindful of my diet, I practice yoga and exercise, have a house and a part-time job as I try to hone my skills as a writer of short stories and plays, and a car and all of those basic things we all want - and then some - and I have to say, I'm having the time of my life!

    Depression - be it dysthymia or major depression or both, has taken the lives of too may ... - 4/20/2008 2:32:31 AM
  • I have to say that exercise, the right meds and supplements all help in the fight against depression. Until recently I was not aware that I was fighting depression. My doc says it is a very mild case. I have battled anxiety issues for over 20 years. This article did help me and helped me to feel comfortable with what my doc is telling me. - 2/25/2008 1:39:50 AM

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