Depression is defined as a prolonged period of feeling sad, lonely, hopeless, lost, worthless, devoid of energy, apathetic, and even suicidal. There are many forms of depression. Almost everyone goes through at least a few periods of depression during their life. However, for some individuals, the problem is much more severe and protracted. While the causes of depression are not clearly understood, they include a number of genetic, environmental, and personal factors. Depression can severely impact a person’s personal and professional life, and potentially even lead to suicide.
There are several types of depression, including:
- Major Depressive Disorder – Sufferers experience very severe depression symptoms that interfere with their ability to function. Some individuals have only one episode, but most have several throughout their lives.
- Persistent Depressive Disorder – A depressed mood that lasts for two or more years. In some cases, this can be a lifelong condition.
- Psychotic Depression – Sufferers experience both severe depression and some form of psychosis, including audio and visual hallucinations or having false beliefs or delusions.
- Postpartum Depression – This form of depression is caused by the hormonal and physical changes associated with pregnancy and giving birth as well as the new responsibilities of caring for a newborn. Between 10 and 15 percent of new mothers experience postpartum depression.
- Seasonal Affective Disorder – Depression symptoms begin during the late fall and winter months, as the amount of daily sunlight decreases. In many cases, light therapy is helpful for treating this condition.
- Bipolar Disorder – No longer generally considered a form of depression, sufferers of this group of closely related mental conditions alternate between periods of depression and mania, a state of heightened and exaggerated moods. Also known as manic depression and bipolar depression, bipolar disorder is more often than not misdiagnosed as depression as most sufferers initially seek treatment for being depressed and do not understand or report the typically less frequent manic episodes.