Types of Depression


Information on the types of depression and who is most susceptible.

For 20 percent to 35 percent of depressed people, a normal routine is all but impossible. Others have episodes of depression followed by feelings of well-being. Still others have episodes of terrible lows that alternate with inappropriate "highs." Here are some descriptions of the most common forms of depression.

Clinical depression

When depression is serious enough to require treatment, it is called clinical depression. When the symptoms are more severe, someone is said to be suffering from major depression. This condition tends to be episodic in nature.


Although many people suffer episodes of depression, others suffer from recurrent, or long-lasting depression, and are diagnosed with dysthymia. When people with dysthymia have an additional major depressive episode, the diagnosis is double depression.

Bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic depression, consists of terrible lows that alternate with unexplainable highs. Experts believe this is attributable to imbalances in brain chemistry. Medications can correct the imbalance about 80 percent of the time.

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

The winter blues are not all in your head. Researchers believe that some people respond to changes in the amount of light they are exposed to, and therapies focus on adjusting light exposure.

Who gets depressed?

  • About twice as many women as men suffer from clinical depression. Bipolar disorder, however, occurs with equal frequency in both genders. There are no differences in the rates of depression among various ethnic groups.
  • In most cases, depression occurs between the ages of 25 and 44, with an increasing rate among those born after 1945. This may be prompted by changes in our society, such as increased single parenting, changes in roles and expectations, and all the accompanying stress. However, people can suffer from depression at any age, even as young children. Experts believe that 2 percent of children and 4 percent to 8 percent of teenagers suffer from depression. Depression also can be a problem for the elderly.
  • Those with a family history of depression are at an increased risk for developing depression.
  • Depression often occurs along with medical illnesses, psychiatric disorders and substance abuse.
  • Marriage can have either a good or bad impact. Married people and those in ongoing intimate relationships have a somewhat lower rate of clinical depression than those living alone. However, those in unhappy relationships have the highest rate of depression. Happily married men have the lowest rate.




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