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Depression Health Center

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Types of Depression

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Persistent Depressive Disorder

If you have depression that lasts for 2 years or longer, it's called persistent depressive disorder. It used to be known as dysthymia.

You may have symptoms such as:

  • Change in your appetite (not eating enough or overeating)
  • Sleep too much or too little
  • Lack of energy, or fatigue
  • Low self-esteem
  • Trouble concentrating or making decisions
  • Feel hopeless

You may be treated with psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of the two.

Bipolar Disorder

Someone with bipolar disorder, which used to be called "manic depression," has mood episodes that range from extremes of high energy with an "up" mood to low "depressive" periods.

When you're in the low phase, you'll have the symptoms of major depression.

Medication can help bring your mood swings under control. Whether you're in a high or a low period, your doctor may suggest a mood stabilizer, such as lithium.

The FDA has approved three medicines to treat the depressed phase:

Doctors sometimes prescribe other drugs, such as lamotrigine.

Your doctor might not recommend an antidepressant for this condition, because it carries a small risk of putting you into a "high" phase. Also, there's no proof from studies that these drugs are helpful in treating depression in people with bipolar disorder.

Psychotherapy can also help support you and your family.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Seasonal affective disorder is a period of major depression that most often happens during the winter months, when the days grow short and you get less and less sunlight.

If you have SAD, antidepressants can help. So can light therapy. You'll need to sit in front of a special bright light box for about 15-30 minutes each day.

Psychotic Depression

People with psychotic depression have the symptoms of major depression along with "psychotic" symptoms, such as:

  • Hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren't there)
  • Delusions (false beliefs)
  • Paranoia (wrongly believing that others are trying to harm you)

A combination of antidepressant and antipsychotic drugs can treat psychotic depression. ECT may also be an option.

Postpartum Depression

Women who have major depression in the weeks and months after childbirth may have postpartum depression. Antidepressant drugs can help.

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