Depression is more than just feeling sad. Depression is a serious mental health condition that requires understanding and medical care. Left untreated, depression can be devastating for those who have it and their families. Fortunately, with early detection, diagnosis, and a treatment plan that includes exercise, many people can overcome the various types of depression.
Major depression affects about 7 percent of U.S. adults in any given year. However, the rate of depression varies by gender and age group: For example, women are twice as likely as men to suffer from major depression at some point during their lives. In addition, about 5 percent of teens experience a severe episode before age 20; however, only about one-third of the teenagers who become depressed each year receive treatment for it.
Do I Have Depression?
Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home.
- Depression symptoms can vary from mild to severe and can include:
- Feeling sad or having a depressed mood
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
- Changes in appetite — weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting
- Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
- Loss of energy or increased fatigue
- Increase in purposeless physical activity (e.g., hand-wringing or pacing) or slowed movements and speech (actions observable by others)
- Feeling worthless or guilty
- Difficulty thinking, concentrating, or making decisions
What Are The Different Types Of Depression?
You might be surprised to learn that there are different types of depression. Each type has its own set of symptoms and treatment options. This can make it difficult to diagnose and treat correctly. But if you’re dealing with depression, it’s important to understand the different types and what they mean.
The broad term “depression” covers many mood disorders, but they aren’t all the same. Here are some of the most common types:
Major Depressive Disorder
This is what most people mean when they talk about depression. It involves a prolonged period of feeling sad or hopeless, sometimes accompanied by physical symptoms like low energy or appetite changes.
Major depressive disorder (MDD), also known simply as depression, is a mental disorder characterized by at least two weeks of low mood that is present across most situations. It is often accompanied by low self-esteem, loss of interest in normally enjoyable activities, low energy, and pain without a clear cause.
People may also occasionally have false beliefs or see or hear things that others cannot. Some people have periods of depression separated by years in which they are normal while others nearly always have symptoms present.
Major depressive disorder can negatively affect a person’s personal, work, or school life, sleeping and eating habits, and general health. Between 2-7% of adults with major depression die by suicide, and up to 60% of people who die by suicide had depression or another mood disorder.
Persistent Depressive Disorder (Dysthymia)
It’s not uncommon to feel a bit melancholy from time to time. But when you experience long-term, ongoing sadness, and hopelessness, it may be more than just the blues — it could be persistent depressive disorder (PDD).
Formerly known as dysthymia (dis-THIE-me-uh), PDD is a form of depression that usually lasts for at least two years. People with PDD may lose interest in normal daily activities, feel hopeless, lack productivity, and have low self-esteem and an overall feeling of inadequacy. These feelings last for years and may significantly interfere with relationships, school, work, and daily activities.
PDD is less severe than major depression but more chronic. It can involve long-lasting, often daily symptoms that may not seriously disable a person but keep him or her from functioning well or feeling good.
Although PDD is less intense than major depression, it is an important condition to recognize because people with PDD are at high risk of experiencing major depressive episodes at some point in their lives. In fact, many people diagnosed with PDD have also experienced major depression at some point in their lives.
Symptoms of persistent depressive disorder include:
- Feeling down, sad, or empty most of the time for at least 2 years
- Having little interest in things you usually enjoy doing
- Losing interest in things you usually enjoy doing
- Changes in appetite and weight
- Trouble sleeping (insomnia) or sleeping too much
- Having low energy and feeling tired a lot
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, and making decisions
- Feeling hopeless or worthless
- Frequent physical problems that don’t get better with treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain
Postpartum Depression (PPD)
Postpartum depression is a mood disorder related to the birth of a child. It’s not uncommon for women to feel depressed after giving birth. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it affects about 10 percent of women in the United States.
Postpartum depression disorder (PPD) is a serious condition that can have long-lasting and damaging effects on both new mothers and their babies. It’s different from the “baby blues,” which many women experience after having a child, and is much more severe.
When someone has postpartum depression, they have symptoms similar to those found in other types of depression.
These symptoms can include:
- Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, emptiness, or worthlessness
- Tiredness or lack of energy
- Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
- Eating more or less than usual
- Trouble concentrating or making decisions
- Avoiding friends and family members
Bipolar disorder is a mental illness in which a person experiences extreme variances in thinking, mood, and behavior, known as “mood episodes.” Each mood episode represents a drastic change from a person’s usual mood and behavior. An overly joyful or overexcited state is called a manic episode, and an extremely sad or hopeless state is called a depressive episode.
Sometimes, a mood episode includes symptoms of both mania and depression. This is called a mixed state. People with bipolar disorder also may be explosive and irritable during a mood episode.
During manic episodes, people often feel euphoric and full of energy. During depressive episodes, they may feel sad or hopeless and lose interest or pleasure in most activities. These episodes can last anywhere from days to months at a time, and the individual with bipolar disorder will experience periods of normal mood in between those times.
Bipolar disorder is not the same as simple mood swings that we all experience. The changes in mood associated with bipolar disorder are much more severe than that, affecting your ability to function normally in your daily life at work and at home.
Symptoms of bipolar disorder include:
- Feeling very “up,” “high,” or elated
- Having a lot of energy
- Having increased activity levels
- Being easily distracted
- Talking really fast about a lot of different things
- Feeling overly self-confident or having grand ideas
- Having trouble concentrating or focusing on things
- Being irritable and acting impulsively
Changing routine sleeping patterns, such as sleeping very little during a manic phase (insomnia) or sleeping too much during a depressive episode
Seasonal Affective Disorder
Imagine feeling like you’re living life on a roller coaster. You feel great for a few months, but then the lows start coming and you begin to feel the weight of the world crushing down on your shoulders.
If this sounds familiar – or something like it – you may be one of an estimated ten million Americans who suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD is a type of depression that follows a seasonal pattern. Most people with SAD are fine during the summer, but develop symptoms of depression as winter approaches and daylight hours get shorter.
The symptoms of SAD are basically the same as other forms of depression, but they follow a seasonal pattern:
- Loss of energy
- Social withdrawal
- Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
If you think your PMS symptoms are bad, you’re probably not alone. But they may be much worse than you realize.
If you experience severe mood swings, depression, and physical symptoms before your period every month, it could be PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder), a condition that can affect up to 8 percent of women in their reproductive years.
“Premenstrual dysphoric disorder is a more severe form of PMS,” says Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Yale School of Medicine. “A lot of women feel crummy for a few days before their period starts, but with PMDD these symptoms are very severe.”
What causes PMDD?
Researchers aren’t positive about what causes PMDD — but they have an idea. It’s thought to be related to a hormone imbalance in the brain that leads to serotonin regulation issues. Women with other mental health problems like anxiety or depression are more likely to develop PMDD when their brains are already more sensitive to changes in their hormones.
Symptoms of PMDD are like those of PMS. They may include:
- Breast tenderness
- Feeling tired
- Muscle and joint pain
Atypical depression, or depression with atypical features as it has been known in the DSM, is depression that shares many of the typical symptoms of the psychiatric syndromes major depression or dysthymia but is characterized by improved mood in response to positive events.
People who experience atypical depression often feel especially depressed or irritable in the morning and improve as the day goes on. They may also overeat, oversleep, and gain weight. People with atypical depression are more likely to be women than men. The condition most commonly begins in adolescence or early adulthood and lasts into middle age.
Atypical depression is a depressive mood disorder that differs from major depressive disorder (MDD) in several ways, such as its associated symptoms, treatment response, and risk factors. Atypical depression is a highly prevalent form of depression that affects your mood, behaviors, thoughts, and feelings. It can also affect your energy levels, sleep patterns, and appetite.
The primary symptoms of atypical depression include:
- Persistent sadness
- Low energy
- Feeling heavy in the arms or legs
- Irritability and anxiety
How Do I Get Rid Of Depression Through Exercise?
Overcoming the various types of depression can be done in a number of different ways. If you don’t mind trying out different medications, that’s one route, but you should always be aware of the potential side effects associated with it.
If you’re the type of person that wants to take a more natural and holistic route to overcome certain types of depression, you might want to consider exercise therapy.
Exercise Can Help You Fight Depression
There’s no shortage of ways to beat the different types of depression. Exercise can make all the difference. Of course, there are a lot of variables that determine your response to exercise — where you live, your genetic makeup, your relationships, and so on — but the data is clear: exercise reduces or even eliminates depression symptoms.
When it comes to exercise and depression, there’s no one-size-fits-all prescription. The key is finding something that appeals to you. If you’re a runner but feel like going for a walk would do more for you, go for it. For some, that might mean going for a run instead of a walk.
Some people want to lose weight and get in shape, and for them, that might be the most important factor in their overall well-being. If you’re not motivated by weight loss specifically and don’t have any issues with eating or having difficulty getting in shape, don’t let that stop you from exercising.
Try Exerpy To Find Relief From Depression
Exerpy, or exercise therapy, is a valuable tool in the fight against all types of depression. Exerpy is a company that formulates exercise therapy programs for those dealing with mental health struggles.
In addition, Exerpy offers a free trial, so you don’t have to worry about pulling out your wallet before trying a program from them. All of their programs are also fully customized, so you won’t be blanketed with a one-size-fits-all program as many other fitness companies do.