Hi, I am Marley Hall and this is "Depression in Focus". On this segment I am here with Dr. Thomas Schwartz to shine a spotlight on some of the most common types of depression.
Dr. Schwartz, let's talk about the most common type. What is Major or Clinical Depression?
So Major Depression is a collection of symptoms. We typically see people sad, crying. People don't focus, they can't concentrate well; they get tired.
Some people eat a lot, some people lose their appetite, some people feel worthless, they lose their self-esteem, and maybe the worse possible symptom is feeling suicidal.
So major depression is when you have a collection of all of these symptoms and they all add up, and then unfortunately start to interfere with their life.
Most people at times in their life feel down. How do you know if you're just having the blues or depressed?
I think it is perfectly normal in this world to get down and sad, and we all have those events in our life. I think if you have a sad event and then the event clears up or gets better,
and you don't–with all those symptoms–you might be heading towards a major depression. Sad things come and go, but depression unfortunately sticks.
Now, what is chronic depression also known as Dysthymia, how does that manifest itself?
Well, Dysthymia is a chronic low level of depression and we've all probably met people like this in retrospect, they are kind of down and out, kind of grumpy, kind of irritable.
They still hold their jobs, still have relationships, still kind of succeed in what they are doing. So it's not as impairing day-to-day, but it's kind of always there with you.
Now, we have all heard the term manic depression, what is that exactly?
Well, manic depression has been re-coined Bipolar disorder. And the idea is you can go from being fully depressed like we described, to being manic. Their whole personality changes.
And they really look like they are high on life, or high on substances, but they are not. Their brain has just shift from being low and depressed to being high and manic.
Now, we have all heard about very specific types of depression. Like postpartum depression for example, what is that?
So postpartum depression in theory happens after you deliver a baby of course, and usually within 4 to 8 weeks, patients will notice all of those depression symptoms we mentioned,
Mainly 70% of women will go through a low level of depression for a little bit. It's temporary that tends to start bouncing back over time.
But again, if you get stuck way down in a major depression and it carries on, you now have postpartum depression.
Now, are there some women who at the higher risk of getting postpartum depression?
Yes, I think anybody with a previous history of depression even before they were having children is at risk. I think any patient with again, a family history of depression,
women with poor social support. Any of those things are probably the greatest risk factor.
Now, what exactly is seasonal depression?
Seasonal depression happens typically in our neck of the woods in the North American area during the fall and the winter.
And there are a couple of theories about season of depression, is it lack of sunlight? Is it cloud cover? We're not sure. But the idea is in the winter,
there is a preponderance of depressed folks that get worse. They get more depressed.
What do we know about some of the causes of depression?
I like to think about depression and where it comes from, from three different angles. We use something called the bio-cycle social model. When we start with the biology,
a lot of people think it's a chemical imbalance, may be you are too low on some neurotransmitters or brain chemicals. That may be true, that may come from genetics.
If you have a lot of family members with depression, we feel that might be a 30% genetic thing. So maybe you do inherit part of it, but that's not the only answer.
We all have different personalities; that's the psychological part I think. Some of us cope with stress well some us don't.
And finally the social aspect is stress, we all have stress things come and go in our life.
But we also have to be honest in that some of us had more stress than others, and the more stress you had, the more likely you'll get depressed.
Now, why do you think depression is so complicated?
I think like any medical illness, there is a range of complication. There are some depressions that are very simple, very easy to treat. And then as you suggest, sometimes it does get complicated.
Well, Dr. Schwartz, thank you so much. We have talked about the ways that depression can manifest itself.
And next, we'll talk about some of the treatment options. Join us again on Depression in Focus.