Types of Depression

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression impacts more than 264 million people globally. Unlike short-lived mood changes, when left untreated, depression can become the reason for problems with your physical and mental health, including an increased risk for heart disease and dementia. Not only does depression impact the lives of those struggling with it, but it also takes an emotional toll on the loved ones of those suffering from depression.

There are many types of depression, including Major Depression, Persistent Depressive Disorder, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), Bipolar Disorder, Peripartum (Postpartum) Depression, Psychotic Depression, and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD).

Make sure you know what is depression and that you can notice the first signs and symptoms of depression in yourself or your close ones to get help as soon as possible.

Read about the 7 most common types of depressive disorders, their symptoms and specifics in this blog post.

Major Depression

The most common type of depression, major depression is a state of mental health where a dark mood is all-consuming. Individuals suffering from major depression often lose interest in activities that once brought them pleasure.

Symptoms of major depression include:

  • Changes in sleep patterns, including fatigue, difficulty falling or remaining asleep
  • Changes in weight or appetite
  • Lack of interest in activities that once brought happiness
  • Lack of energy
  • Overwhelming feelings of worthlessness, helplessness, or hopelessness
  • Frequent thoughts of death or suicide
  • Withdrawing from family and friends

Major depression is typically treated with psychotherapy and medication. For those individuals struggling with severe depression resistant to antidepressant medications or psychotherapy, electroconvulsive therapy may be effective.

Persistent Depressive Disorder

Persistent depressive disorder is depression that lasts for two years or longer but may not reach major depression. Previously called “dysthymia,” many individuals with this type of depression are able to function day to day, but feel chronic and frequent moments of sadness or joylessness. Symptoms of persistent depressive disorder may include changes in sleep and appetite, fatigue, low self-esteem, or hopelessness. Persistent depressive disorder can be treated with psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of the two.

Bipolar Disorder (Manic Depression)

People with bipolar disorder, previously called manic-depressive disorder, experience mood episodes that range from extremes of high energy with an “up” mood to “depressive” periods with low moods. During a low phase, individuals experience symptoms of depression. However manic symptoms look like the opposite of depression symptoms. Manic episodes include:

  • Increased energy, activity, or agitation
  • Grandiose ideas, sense of well-being, and self-confidence (euphoria)
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Unusual talkativeness
  • Difficulty concentrating or focusing (racing thoughts and easily distracted)
  • Poor decision-making (such as excessive spending or taking sexual risks)

Manic periods do not last long and can lead to self-destructive behavior. These manic periods are usually followed by a period of depression. Bipolar disorder is treated with a combination of psychotherapy and medications. Medications for bipolar disorder are different from those given for other types of depression. However, they can be very effective in stabilizing a person’s mood.

types of depressive disorders

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a period of major depression that typically occurs during the winter months when the days grow short and you get less sunlight. The mood change may result from alterations in the body’s natural daily rhythms, in the eyes’ sensitivity to light, or in how chemical messengers like serotonin and melatonin function. SAD typically goes away in the spring and summer.

SAD can be treated with a combination of psychotherapy and light therapy.

Psychotic Depression

Individuals struggling with psychotic depression exhibit symptoms of major depression along with “psychotic” symptoms, such as:

  • Hallucinations, such as hearing or seeing things that aren’t actually there
  • Delusions (a false belief that is resistant to confrontation with actual facts)
  • Paranoia (a thought process that causes people to have an irrational suspicion or mistrust of others)

Psychotic depression can be treated with a combination of therapy, antidepressants, and antipsychotic medications.

Depression Types Unique to Women

1. Peripartum (Postpartum) Depression

Women who have minor or major depression in the weeks and months following childbirth birth may be struggling with peripartum depression. Perinatal depression affects up to one in seven women who give birth and can have devastating effects on the women, their children, and their families. Symptoms can include loss of appetite, insomnia, difficulty bonding with the baby, or intense irritability. Treatment for postpartum depression can be treated with counseling, antidepressants, or hormone therapy. Women who develop peripartum depression are at greater risk of developing major depression later on in life.

2. Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)

Women with PMDD struggle with depression and other symptoms at the start of their menstrual cycle. Symptoms of PMDD typically begin shortly after ovulation and end once menstruation starts. Aside from exhibiting symptoms of depression, they may also have:

  • Intense mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty focusing or concentrating
  • Fatigue
  • Change in appetite
  • Change in sleep patterns
  • Feeling overwhelmed

Women with PMDD can be treated with psychotherapy, antidepressant medications, or sometimes oral contraceptives.


How BE Psychology team can help you with these types of depression

There are many different types of depression. Chemical changes in the brain cause some, and events in your life can cause the others. Whatever the cause of depression, it’s important to let your doctor know what you are feeling. They may refer you to a specialist to help you determine which type of depression you have. This diagnosis is a vital step in deciding the right depression treatment for you.

If you or your loved one needs help managing depression, our team of mental health professionals can help. The BE Psychology team consists of psychologists and psychotherapists with a wide range of expertise and experience committed to helping your personal development. We understand that asking for help takes courage, but you don’t have to face your challenges alone. We’re dedicated to helping our clients find the solutions they need to deal with depression.

Contact a member of our team to schedule your consultation with a psychologist in Dubai.


reem shaheen counseling psychologist


Reem Shaheen – LMHC