THE MANY FLAVORS OF DEPRESSION

Depression, like ice cream, comes in lots of different flavors. While not as fun as Rocky Road or Peppermint Candy, depression has all sorts of varieties. These include the classic Major Depressive Disorder, the ever-popular Dysthymic Disorder, that stalwart favorite Bipolar Disorder, and the exclusive (to mothers) Postpartum Depression. Sometimes these varieties come with sprinkles of anxiety, psychosis, or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Lucky us, eh?

What I’ve been writing about mostly in the Depressive Diva has been Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and Dysthymic Disorder (dysthymia). When people think of someone who is depressed, the usual pictures that comes to their minds are of people with MDD. The symptoms of MDD include changes in appetite and sleep, apathy, low motivation to do things, lack of energy, thoughts of death or suicide, feelings of sadness, and feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. The person may attempt suicide or may become so severely depressed that he or she seldom gets out of bed. To be diagnosed with MDD, the symptoms must last at least two weeks.

Dysthymia is very similar to MDD, but it’s not as severe. Dysthymia may last for years. Often the person with dysthymia doesn’t realize that he or she is depressed; they only know they don’t feel happy and may assume that’s just their personality.

Both MDD and dysthymia can be treated with psychotherapy (“talk therapy”) and antidepressant medications. If the person is suicidal, he or she may need hospitalization.

This site has a good overview of the many different variations of depression. I’ll discuss bipolar disorder and postpartum depression more fully in future posts.

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