Oct 28, 2013
Forms of depression vary, as do what causes it. This makes it a very challenging disease to treat although understanding is helping.
Depression is a serious illness that, thanks to a growing understanding of just how common it is, is finally beginning to lose some of its stigma. It remains a complex disease with often unclear causes. Acute causes are easy enough to identify: the recent death of a loved one, a divorce, loss of a job or job related stress, or a serious injury or illness. Other causes remain elusive and the different types of recognized depression makes it even more difficult at times to find just what the source of a person’s depression may be.
Major depression is a disabling form of depression that interferes with your ability to function normally in everyday life. You lose interest in activities that once provided a great deal of pleasure and satisfaction and normal activities we usually take for granted become difficult. Work and study habits become severely impaired, the ability to sleep is disrupted, and even the task of eating regularly can become overwhelming, or all encompassing.
Minor depression is much like major depression, just not as severe. For a diagnosis of minor depression, the symptoms must last for at least two weeks. People with minor depression are at extremely high risk to develop major depression, especially if they don’t receive any treatment.
Dysthymia is a long-term depressive disorder that lasts 2 years or more. Symptoms may not be so severe that they are completely disabling, but the chronic nature of it is still quite challenging to have to cope with. If you suffer from dysthymia, you are also likely to suffer from several cases of major depression over the course of your lifetime.
There are also some very specific and unique forms of depression. Postpartum depression and seasonal affective disorder don’t easily fall into the other catagories of depression and treatment for these two forms of depression can be considerably different than the other types. Bipolar disorder was once commonly called manic-depression but it differs from depression in that manic highs cycle with depressive lows. These highs and lows are much more extreme than normal mood swings and milder depressive states.
Genetics play a role in depression since it commonly runs in families, but biological, environmental, and psychological factors also play significant roles in how depression develops in different people. It is very much a physical illness as much as a mental one, as changes in the brain in a person suffering from depression can be found using an MRI scan, even though it is not a useful diagnostic tool for depression itself. Studies to understand the different forms and causes of depression continue to expand the knowledge base on this illness though we are a long way from truly understanding its many causes and forms, but even small insights help doctors find better treatments all the time.