What Type of Depression Do You Have?

by Andrea M. Darcy
Reviewed by Dr Sheri Jacobson

Depression is said to affect one in six people here in the UK. Think you are depressed, but not sure? Read about the different types of depression to see if one sounds like you.

Clinical depression

Feel low and tired most days, and it's been going on for several weeks or more? And your thoughts are increasingly negative and hopeless?

Here in the UK general or 'clinical' depression is broken down into three levels - severe, moderate, and mild. The level depends on how much the way you are feeling impacts your daily life. At one end depression means we can hardly function, and those around us see there is a problem. At the other end, we can hide our sense of hopelessness, but still secretly struggle.

Major depressive disorder (MDD)

Just feel you can't keep going? That life isn't worth living? And are your low moods sabotaging your life? Your relationship, career, and financial health?

This is actually an American diagnosis from their famous manual of mental health conditions, ‘the DSM-V’. In the UK it's just referred to as ‘severe depression’ or 'clinical depression'.

Walking depression

Do you feel terrible on the inside, but manage to keep up a smile on the outside and carry on with life? Do you have a sense that nobody knows how you really feel?

Not actually a clinical diagnosis, many people nevertheless feel 'walking depression' describes their life exactly. It’s also referred to as ‘smiling depression’, and it can go on for years without others knowing. The diagnosis a doctor would give you is mild or moderate depression.

Bipolar disorder

Do you have days or even weeks of feeling euphoric, like you can conquer the world? Followed by horrible lows where you don't want to get out of bed?

At one point referred to as ‘manic depression’, this diagnosis involves bouts of both low moods and mania. When you are manic, you feel on top of the world, and make impulsive decisions that sabotage your life long-term. Without treatment, life becomes a rollercoaster that leaves you exhausted.

Postnatal depression (PND)

Did you have a baby recently? Have you been feeling not your self for several weeks or more? And it's either not changing or it's getting worse?

This is called ‘postpartum depression’ in America. Having a child is a huge change for a parent and having a spot of the ‘baby blues’ is actually normal. But if you still feel sad, anxious, hopeless, and/or disinterested after a few weeks, or if these types of symptoms actually start several weeks after giving birth? It’s time to pay attention.

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

Fine most of the time, but then feel low for the same few months each year? And it happens to be when the weather starts to get colder and the days shorter?

If this pattern has been going on for three years or more, then you might be diagnosed as having seasonal affective disorder.

Reverse seasonal affective disorder

Do you start to feel miserable every year when sunny long days set in?

Yes, it’s possible to have depression that is triggered by the onset of warm weather and longer days. In fact it’s thought that about 10% of people who have SAD have this reverse form.

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)

Do you not just have PMS, but get severely low in the week or two leading up to your period? To the extent it seriously impacts your life and relationships? Or even sees you facing suicidal thoughts? But then after your period you are fine again?

PMDD is unfortunately not as well-known or understood as it should be, and was for a long time just thought of as an endocrine disorder. In the USA, at least, it is now recognised as a mental health disorder.

Does one of the above sound like you? Want to talk to someone who actually understands and can help? Use our easy tool to find a therapist that is a perfect fit for you, and be talking as soon as tomorrow.

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