Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses today, yet it is still very misunderstood. We often have an idea in our heads of what depression looks like that can be very inaccurate to what it’s actually like to experience it, not least of all because there is no one way to experience depression. It can be incredibly varied in the way it looks from the outside and the way it feels on the inside, and part of this is because depression isn’t just one mental illness! There are actually many different kinds of depression that can all be very different from each other, and can present in different ways and require different kinds of treatment. Here are a few of the most common!
Major depression or major depressive disorder is probably where most of our minds go when we first think of depression. It describes feelings of intense sadness and emptiness that have no obvious source and last for two weeks or longer. It’s also sometimes called clinical depression. People with this type of depression often eat and sleep far more or far less than they normally would, take little interest or joy in things they used to like, struggle with their focus and energy, and may have thoughts of harming themselves or suicide. Call the National Suicide Hotline at 988 if you or a loved one is experiencing these thoughts!
If someone experiences the symptoms of major depression for more than two years, they’re diagnosed with persistent depressive disorder, also sometimes known as dysthymia. Feeling the signs of major depression more days than not for this stretch of time is a required part of the diagnosis, and while people with persistent depression can experience stretches of feeling good again, these periods of time have to be shorter than two months for this diagnosis to apply. The symptoms of persistent depression can sometimes be less severe, but they’re more pervasive and difficult to shake. Treatment like therapy and medication can help.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
If you find yourself feeling intensely sad, fatigued, and numb during the winter months, you’re not alone! Seasonal depression, also known as seasonal affective disorder or SAD, is a recognized medical condition, and actually a pretty common one. Scientists aren’t sure exactly why SAD happens, although it’s theorized that the lack of sunlight during the winter is a contributing factor, as well as the cold weather that keeps people indoors, isolated, and lonely. Therapy and medication can be helpful treatments for this type of depression, and the use of light therapy boxes to mimic sunlight is also often used.
Thought to be brought on by the intense hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period, postpartum depression (or PPD) is experienced by new mothers within the first year after the birth of a child. In years past, PPD wasn’t well understood. It was often looked down upon and referred to as “the baby blues.” These days, the condition is thankfully beginning to be taken more seriously. Signs of PPD can include classic depression symptoms like low mood, low energy, mood swings, feelings of worthlessness, social withdrawal, and appetite changes, but can also include a difficulty bonding with the baby, feelings of being a bad mother, or thoughts of hurting either oneself or one’s child. Postpartum depression can be very serious and should be discussed with a doctor. Hormone therapy, counseling, and antidepressants can be very helpful in treating it.
Treatment-resistant depression is exactly what it sounds like. It is identified by all the hallmark symptoms of major depressive disorder, but classic treatments like antidepressant medication and therapy don’t help, and the person continues to struggle with their symptoms unabated. This can be a very disheartening situation to find yourself in, and you may think that there’s no hope of you ever feeling better. However, this is not the case! There are methods and options available to you that are specifically helpful for depression that has resisted traditional treatment methods, and transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS, is one of them.
Here at the TMS Center of the Lehigh Valley, we’ve helped many people with treatment resistant depression to finally experience relief from their symptoms. Contact us today to learn more!