What are the Types of Depression?

Types of Depression

Learn more about the different types of depression, risk factors and treatment

Table of Contents

What is Depression?

Depression is a serious medical condition that affects mood, thoughts, and behavior. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease your ability to function at work or at home. Depression is not a normal part of aging, and it is not something that you have to “just deal with,” – despite any problematic stigmatization. 

There are many different types of depression, many of which you will learn about through this comprehensive article. 

How Common is Depression?

Depression is one of the most common mental disorders, affecting millions of people around the world. While depression can occur at any age, it is most commonly seen in adults. According to the World Health Organization, more than 264 million people of all ages suffer from depression.1

Who is at Risk for Depression?

Some of the most common risk factors for depressive disorders include having a family history of depression, experiencing chronic stress or trauma, substance abuse, struggling with a chronic medical condition, and even certain medications that can cause depressive symptoms. 

Common Causes and Risk Factors of Depression

Several common causes and risk factors of depression are brain chemistry, genetics, life events, medical conditions, and personality. These will be detailed below.

Brain Chemistry

Although brain chemistry plays a significant role in the development of depression, research has found that it is accompanied by other factors and does not just arise from having too much or too little of certain chemicals in your brain.2


The genetics of depression are complex and not yet fully understood. However, research has shown that there is a heritable component to the disorder. This means that if someone in your family has depression, you may be more likely to experience it yourself. There are many different genes that have been linked to depression. Some of these genes are involved in the regulation of serotonin, a brain chemical that plays a role in mood. Other genes are involved in the stress response, which can impact how someone copes with difficult life events.

While genes may make someone more susceptible to these factors, they don’t necessarily mean that a person will develop depression. It’s important to remember that depression is complex, and there is not one single cause.3

Life Events

Environmental factors also play a role in the development of depression. These can include trauma, loss, and stressful life circumstances.

Medical Conditions

People with serious medical conditions can experience times of deep sadness, which is normal if it does not become persistent, preventing them from taking care of themselves or enjoying activities they have previously enjoyed. If depression persists, treatment in the form of medication, therapy, or a combination of both may be necessary. 


There are medications that can lead to depression in people who aren’t typically susceptible to the disease. Although this isn’t an exhaustive list, some of these medications include Tegretol, Topamax, Neurontin, and barbiturates. If you are experiencing depression but don’t know why, it is important to talk to your provider or seek out a therapist who can guide you. 


There are certain personality types that tend to be more prone to depressive disorder. People who are perfectionists, for example, often put immense pressure on themselves and can become easily overwhelmed when things don’t go perfectly. People who tend to be more introspective can also be more prone to depression, as they dwell on negative thoughts and feelings. Other personality types that can be more vulnerable to depression include people who are highly sensitive, those who have low self-esteem, and people who generally tend to see the world in a negative light.

While not everyone with these personality traits will necessarily experience depression, they may be more at risk than others. If you think you may be prone to depression, it’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms and to seek help if you start to experience any of them. 

Common Signs and Symptoms of Depression

Symptoms of depression can include persistent sadness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, changes in appetite, and thoughts of suicide. It’s not always easy to tell if someone is dealing with depression. After all, sadness and low energy levels can be chalked up to a bad day or two.

However, when these feelings last for weeks or months, it could be a sign of something more serious. Here are some physical, psychological, and emotional symptoms of depression to watch out for.

Physical Symptoms of Depression

Some physical symptoms of depression include the following:

  • Changes in sleep patterns: Depression can make it hard to fall asleep at night and can also lead to insomnia. On the other hand, some people with depression find that they want to sleep all the time.
  • Loss of appetite: People with depression may lose their appetite or start eating more than usual and along with changes in appetite, depression can also lead to weight loss or weight gain.
  • Chronic fatigue: Feeling tired all the time is a common symptom of depression, as are physical aches and pains, including headaches and stomach aches.

Psychological Symptoms of Depression

Depression can lead to dark thoughts, such as wanting to die or hurt oneself. Having persistent pessimistic thoughts is also a sign that you might be suffering from depression. Pessimism involves having a negative outlook on life or expecting an unwanted scenario to come true.

It is important to note that one key difference between depression and pessimism is that depression can be physically, psychologically, and emotionally debilitating.

Emotional Symptoms of Depression

Some emotional symptoms of depressive disorders include loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy, difficulty concentrating, and feelings of guilt and worthlessness. People with depression may feel like they are not good enough or that they have done something wrong. 

What Are the Types of Depression?

While the symptoms are similar and often overlap, there are numerous different kinds of depression, including the following types: major depression, bipolar disorder, perinatal and postpartum depression, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), persistent depressive disorder, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, and psychotic depression. 

Major Depression

Major depression is a serious and severe depressive disorder that can negatively impact a person’s thoughts, emotions, physical health, and overall quality of life. Symptoms of major depression can include persistent feelings of sadness or emptiness, loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities, sleeping too much or not being able to sleep, changes in appetite, and fatigue. Major depression can also lead to suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a type of depression that is characterized by extreme shifts in mood, energy, and activity levels. People with bipolar disorder can have periods of mania or hypomania (highs) followed by periods of depression (lows). Bipolar disorder affects both men and women equally.

Perinatal and Postpartum Depression

There are two kinds of depression types that can occur during or after pregnancy: perinatal depression and postpartum depression. Perinatal depression can occur during pregnancy, or in the first year after the baby is born. 

Postpartum depression is a type of depression that can occur in the first year after the baby is born. It’s important to get treatment for perinatal and postpartum depression because it can affect the health of both the mother and the baby.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), also known as seasonal depressive disorder, is a kind of depression that typically occurs during changes in the season and starts and ends about the same time each year. SAD generally occurs in the fall and winter months, but it can also occur in the spring or early summer and correlates with the decrease in sunlight. 

Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD)

Persistent depressive disorder, also known as dysthymia, is a chronic form of depression. It is characterized by a persistent low mood that lasts for at least two years. People with persistent depressive disorder may also experience episodes of major depression during their illness, and it can have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life. It can negatively affect work, relationships, and self-esteem. 

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)

PMDD is a severe form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and it can cause serious disruptions in a woman’s life. Symptoms of PMDD include severe mood swings, depression, anxiety, irritability, insomnia, fatigue, and changes in appetite. These symptoms can have a significant impact on a woman’s ability to function in her everyday life.

Psychotic Depression

Psychotic depression is a rare but serious and complex kind of depression. It can cause a person to have delusions (false beliefs) or hallucinations (seeing, feeling, smelling, and hearing things that are not there). People with psychotic depression may also be very withdrawn and isolate themselves from others. a person with psychotic depression may have “psychomotor retardation”, where both their thoughts and physical movements slow down.4

How Do I Know Which Depression Type I Have?

There are different depression types, and it can be difficult to know which type you have. Your doctor can help you identify the specific type of depression you have and recommend the best treatment options.

How Do I Know Which Depression Type I Have?

There are different depression types, and it can be difficult to know which type you have. Your doctor can help you identify the specific type of depression you have and recommend the best treatment options.


There are many different types of medications that can be used to treat depression. Some of the most common include:

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs): SSRIs are the most prescribed type of medication for depression. They work by increasing levels of serotonin in the brain, which can improve mood.
  • Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs): SNRIs are another type of medication that can be used to treat depression. They work by increasing levels of both serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain, which can help to improve mood.
  • Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs): TCAs are a type of antidepressant that is older than SSRIs and SNRIs. They work by affecting levels of both serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain.
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs): MAOIs work by inhibiting the activity of an enzyme called monoamine oxidase, which is involved in the breakdown of serotonin and norepinephrine.
  • Other medications: There are other types of medication that can be used to treat depression, such as bupropion (Wellbutrin), mirtazapine (Remeron), and trazodone (Desyrel).

If you are considering taking medication for depression, it is important to talk to your doctor about the potential risks and benefits. Medication can be an effective treatment for depression, but it is not right for everyone.


There are many different types of psychotherapy, each with its own unique approach and techniques. Some of the most common types of therapy include cognitive-behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, and psychoanalysis.

Brain Stimulation Therapies

Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) has become quite popular over the last decade or so and has been shown to help in cases of treatment-resistant depression. TMS uses magnetic impulses to stimulate your brain. While the science is still out, it is believed that it can boost nerve cell activity in parts of the brain that control and affect mood. 

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) has been researched and is considered safe. It works well in cases of severe treatment-resistant depression or bipolar disorder. 

Other Treatment Options

Vagus nerve stimulation was first used in the treatment of epilepsy, but it has shown great promise in treating depression as well. 

Herbal remedies, acupuncture, reflexology, guided imagery, yoga, exercise, meditation, and massage are also some alternatives to standard medical practices. The most important thing to do is to talk with your doctor about the right treatment plan for depression. 

How Can I Find Help?

When you are depressed or experiencing depressive symptoms, it can feel like you will never be able to get the help that you need. However, even the most severe cases of depression are treatable with the appropriate treatment plan in place. 

If your depression is keeping you from living your life on your terms, seek help from a health care professional to develop a treatment plan best suited to your needs. From cognitive therapy to medication to healthy lifestyle modifications, there is a vast array of treatment options available.

Contact Alta Centers Today

Alta Centers Los Angeles Dual Diagnosis center can help with treatment co occrring disorders . Our highly-trained team of therapists and treatment professionals is well-equipped to help you decide on the best possible treatment plan for you. If you are interested in beginning the journey to recovery, please don’t hesitate to contact us today.