Unfortunately depression is becoming a common condition in complicated stressful life of modern women. Millions of women experience depression each year. Depression is a serious medical condition that can occur in any woman – about one in every 7-8 women experience clinical depression during their lifetime. Depression types could be different.
Women could have depression at any time of their life but most frequently depression is observed during reproductive period of women life – at 25-44.
There are several depression types with similar and/or unique symptoms, with similar or unique causes and with similar and/or unique behavior changes. The severity of depression symptoms, treatment and prognosis depend on the types of depression.
Medical professionals know several depression types (depressive disorders) which are classified based on causes, symptoms and behavior changes.
Major Depression (unipolar depression, major depressive disorder)
Major depression is the most common variety of depression that affects the majority of women. Major depression is characterized by a bunch of symptoms that interfere with women’s ability to work, sleep, study, eat and enjoy once-pleasurable activities. Main symptoms of this type of depression include fatigue or loss of energy, disturbed sleep, feeling worthless or excessive guilt, confusion, depressed mood or mental tension, weight loss or weight gain or changed appetite, difficulty thinking or concentrating or making decisions, suicide thoughts or suicide attempts.
Usually symptoms of major depression last for most of the day, nearly every day for at least 2-3 weeks. This form of depression is characterized by severe depressive episodes and affects women’s physical, mental and overall wellbeing. In this cases the immediate medical support is strongly recommended.
Several medical studies demonstrate that major depressive disorder can be very disabling, destroying women’s normal everyday life – damaging working abilities, normal functioning, becoming absolutely unhappy and down. It was noted that some women experience only one episode of major depression during whole life, while others have recurrences (multiple episodes).
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) is a very specific type of depression in women when woman suffer from severe depression symptoms ONLY during premenstrual period of the menstrual cycle (about 6-14 days before menstruation). Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) is a severe type of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) where symptoms of depression (significant irritability, sadness, tension, pains, suicide thoughts, etc.) are much more intense and severe – much stronger than those seen during ordinary Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS).
About 3-7% women could suffer from Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder which can appear only during reproductive period of women life.
Dysthymia (Dysthymic disorder, mild chronic depression)
Dysthymia is a long lasting type of depression (2 years or longer) with constant depressed mood but other symptoms are not severe and women with dysthymia are not disabled. At the same time many women with dysthymia may find it hard to function normally and feel well. This type of depression is described as having persistent but less severe depressive symptoms. Symptoms of dysthymia include irregular eating pattern, fatigue, irregular sleeping pattern, feelings of low self-esteem, hopelessness and inability to concentrate.
Some women experience only one episode of dysthymia during whole life but some women could have repeated episodes (recurrences).
Women with dysthymia could be considered as a risk group for major depression as they could also experience one or more episodes of major depression during their lifetimes.
Postpartum depression (postnatal depression, PND)
Postpartum depression is a very specific type of depression which appears in women only after delivery (after giving birth). If mother after delivery experience major depressive episode within a few weeks of giving birth, it means she is experiencing postpartum depression. Several surveys demonstrated that about 10-15% of all women could have PND after giving birth.
Postpartum depression is also a sub-type of major depression characterized by symptoms similar to extremely severe depression. It can occur within the first days or weeks of delivering the baby. Typical symptoms of postpartum depression include irritability, grief, crying and a feeling of fragileness.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
The name of this type of depression is linked to seasons. Depression which appears only during dark seasons, winter months called “Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)” – it is a variety of depression that occurs in people who are sensitive to changing seasons and is directly related to the amount of daylight available. During SAD the cold temperature, climate and early nightfall affect women’s mood, making them irritable, sad and depressed. In cases of CAD usually symptoms of depression disappear during spring and summer.
In Scandinavian countries, Canada and the United Kingdom , where winter can be very dark for many months, many women are recommended to undergo light therapy for prevention of Seasonal Affective Disorder.
During SAD usually women experience feeling of sadness and fatigue which appear as soon as the season changes – sensitivity and emotional reactions to the amount of daylight at a particular time of year can be easily noticed in SAD women. Light therapy is recognized as an effective treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
Bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness)
Bipolar disorder is a type of depression when women experience cycling mood changes (periods of mania and depression, moments of extreme highs and extreme lows) – these extremes are known as manias. This condition is caused by imbalance in the chemical substances in the brain. During bipolar disorder happy moments could include a feeling of ecstasy, sleeplessness, an urge to talk and an increased activity along with overconfidence. At the same time cycling mood changes can be rapid. This can last a few hours or for days together. However, the person may change suddenly and inexplicably.
Other symptoms of bipolar disorder include the following:
• inflated self-esteem or self-importance;
• decreased need for sleep;
• increased talkativeness;
• racing thoughts or ideas;
• increased activities (social, work, school, sexual) and excessive movement;
• risky behavior (life threatening activities, casino overspendings, unusual business investments).
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