What is Depression?

Depression can take a variety of forms and influences each person differently. All depressive disorders are categorized by feelings of sadness but these feelings can also include hopelessness, helplessness and despair. Each type varies in severity and longevity and triggers  could be biological, environmental or a combination of both. For these reasons, treatment options differ for each form and it can be challenging to find the best solution without the help of a licensed mental health professional.

Major Depressive Disorder consists of constant feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. It is pervasive and chronic causing significant impairment to functioning. Persistent Depressive Disorder  is a condition in which a person has depression hat lasts over a two year span.

Bipolar Disorder, formerly called “Manic” Depression, is categorized by alternating periods of high bouts of energy followed by lows with reduced energy and feelings of sadness and hopelessness. Another cyclical form of depression is Seasonal Affective Disorder categorized by an episode of major depression during certain times of year , particularly fall and winter, when days are shorter and  light is limited.

Psychotic Depression is accompanied with psychotic features such as hallucinations, delusions and paranoia. Often, this form is concurrent with other disorders.

Women can experience specific types of depression.  When a mother has a child, she may experience Postpartum Depression weeks and months after the baby is born.  Additionally, some women at the beginning of their cycles experience depressive symptoms in what is known as Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder.

Temporary and nontraditional forms of depression include Situational Depression when  managing your life after a stressful event becomes hard , such as job loss. Atypical Depression occurs when your feelings of depression are not pervasive and are often relieved with  a positive event or interaction.

Additional Resources for Depression 


Great sites about depression:


Online surveys to screen depression:





Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World. Mark Williams and Danny Penman. 2011.



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