Under the umbrella term of depression, there are several recognized depression types. The classification of depression continues to be the topic of a heated debate among mental health specialists, because the symptoms and causes of depression vary from woman to woman and often do not fit the rigid criteria.
Moreover, various conditions, such as hormonal imbalance common in middle age women, might worsen the depressive disorders. Currently there are three accepted types of depression, many of them with several subtypes.
Major Depressive Disorder
Also called a clinical depression, it is characterized by symptoms lasting for at least two weeks and interfering with daily functioning, such as eating, sleeping, or working. The episodes of depression can occur once, twice, or several times in a lifetime. Its subtypes include:
- Seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Its symptoms are present within a particular season, most commonly during the months of decreased sunlight, such as the autumn or winter.
- Melancholia. It is an extreme form of depression, often with severe slowness of movement, loss of appetite, and lack of pleasure in daily activities.
- Psychotic depression. Women suffering from it have severe depression and a distorted perception of reality, such as delusions and hallucinations, often leading to suicide.
- Postpartum depression. It occurs after childbirth, and its severity ranges from temporary “baby blues” that go away on their own to more severe forms, including a postpartum psychosis, which often dramatically affects woman's ability to care for her child.
Persistent Depressive Disorder
It is also known as dysthymia, and although it is typically not as severe as major depression, it is usually experienced long-term, for at least two years.
Its symptoms do not disable a woman from going about her daily activities, but they can lead to anhedonia, which is the inability to derive pleasure from activities that used to be enjoyable.
It was formerly called a manic-depression, and it involves dramatic mood swings followed by severe episodes of depression. Bipolar disorder is often chronic and recurring. It further divides into four subtypes:
- Bipolar disorder I. It is characterized by the presence of manic episodes, which last for at least seven days and involve feeling high, talking quickly and more than usual, having increased energy, an exaggerated self-esteem, and irritability. They are followed by depressive episodes that typically last for two weeks.
- Bipolar disorder II. It involves experiencing hypomanic episodes, which are similar to the manic episodes, but are less severe and last four days in a row.
- Cyclothymic disorder. It involves having frequent cycles of hypomania and depression, whose symptoms, however, do not fit the criteria for bipolar disorder I or II.
- Other bipolar and related disorders. Occasionally, the symptoms do not follow a typical pattern, for instance, only the manic episodes are present, and they are not followed by the depressive states.
Depression is a very complex and serious illness. Many menopausal women might experience symptoms that overlap with the symptoms characteristic to other depression types, which might complicate the diagnosis process. However, knowing your type of depression is the key to an effective treatment. You might be interested in reading about the beneficial, but uncommon treatments for depression.