Types Of Depression

Types of Depression site

Verified by World Mental Healthcare Association

Depression is a mental disorder in which a person primarily experiences low moods and an aversion to activity. It can also be accompanied by low self-esteem, feelings of worthlessness, loss of sleep and appetite, etc. Sometimes it can even lead to suicide.

Depression can be of various types, each with its own sets of causes, symptoms, duration, and treatment outcomes.

Read More About Causes Of Depression Here

Types of Depression

According to research 1, the different types of depression and their symptoms include:

1. Major depressive disorder

One of the most common types of depression, major depressive disorder (MDD) involves persistent feelings of sadness, loss of interest, and worthlessness 2. Studies show that MDD has a lifetime prevalence of 5–17% 3 and is the most common depressive disorder to be associated with suicide, globally.

People suffering from MDD experience a variety of psychological and physiological symptoms, such as:

  • Persistent sadness
  • Persistent low mood
  • Stress, anxiety, and frustration
  • Volatile behavior
  • Substance addiction
  • Amnesia
  • Bodily problems like aches, indigestion, amnesia, etc.
  • Self-harming and suicidal tendencies, etc.

Read More About Major Depressive Disorder Here

2. Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder

Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder (DMDD) is a childhood mental disorder in which a child displays symptoms like 4:

  • Extreme irritability
  • Hyperactivity
  • Frequent emotional and behavioral outbursts (like anger, tantrums, etc.)
  • Extreme defiance

Emerging research 5 shows that DMDD isn’t simply the sign of a “moody child” but of more severe underlying mental disorders like –

  • Anxiety disorders
  • ADHD
  • Chronic depression
  • Intellectual disorders

Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder affects nearly 7% 6 of school children worldwide and has a lifetime prevalence rate of 4.4%.

Read More About Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder Here

3. Dysthymia or persistent depressive disorder (PDD)

Persistent depressive disorder or dysthymia is a behavioral and mood disorder characterized by chronic but mild depressive symptoms that may persist for 2 years or more 7. Dysthymia is one of the types of depression whose symptoms last for a person’s lifetime, thereby affecting his/her ability to successfully pursue education, career, and relationships. Globally, dysthymia affects 105 million people a year 8 and is more prevalent amongst women than men.

The most common symptoms of PDD include:

  • Low moods
  • Fatigue
  • Low self-esteem
  • Irritability
  • Amnesia
  • Hyperactivity
  • Poor appetite
  • Disrupted sleep
  • Anhedonia (or loss of interest/pleasure in activities)
  • Apathy

Read More About Dysthymia Here

4. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of mood disorder related to seasonal changes 9. It is also known as seasonal depression or winter blues. It occurs in 0.5–3% 10 of the general population living in countries farthest from the equator in northern latitudes like Alaska, Canada, the UK, Norway, etc.

People with this type of depression experience certain symptoms, every year, from winter to late spring or early summer, including:

  • Appetite and weight fluctuations
  • Fatigue
  • Lethargy
  • Irritability
  • Social isolation, etc.

Read More About SAD Here

5. Cyclothymia

Cyclothymia is a type of depressive disorder characterized by emotional reactivity and dysregulation 11. A person suffering from cyclothymia experiences hypomanic and depressive symptoms that do not meet the criteria for full-blown bipolar disorder or major depressive disorder. It has a prevalence rate of over 5% 11 worldwide.

Also Read Manic Depression

People with cyclothymia display symptoms like:

  • Mood swings
  • Mania
  • Depressive symptoms
  • Emotional outbursts
  • Volatile behavior, etc.

6. Premenstrual dysphoric disorder

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is a severe form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) in which a person experiences physical and behavioral symptoms 12, like:

  • Extreme sadness
  • Extreme mood shifts
  • Hopelessness
  • Irritability
  • Anger
  • Body aches, breast tenderness, bloating, etc.

The signs of premenstrual dysphoric disorder get resolved with the onset of menstruation. Current research estimates that 3-8% 13 of women of reproductive age meet the clinical criteria for premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).

7. Substance/medication-induced depressive disorder

Substance/medication-induced depressive disorder is characterized by persistent mood changes, particularly the onset of depressive symptoms, after the consumption of certain substances and medication 14. It may occur during active drug use, intoxication, or withdrawal. People experiencing this condition also display symptoms related to:

  • Anxiety
  • Psychosis
  • Mania
  • Decreased productivity
  • Decreased interest or pleasure in daily activities and hobbies

Current research estimates the lifetime prevalence of substance/medication-induced depressive disorders between 0.26–1% 14. It is predominantly associated with people with alcoholism and substance use disorder (SUD) or those who are heavily dependent on psychiatric medication (like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia patients).

8. Depressive disorder due to another medical condition

Depressive disorder due to another medical condition is a mood disorder in which a person develops marked symptoms of depression as physiological consequences of another medical condition. According to research 15, certain systemic diseases can lead to the development of depression, such as –

  • Endocrine diseases
  • Viral infections
  • Collagen disease
  • Hepatitis B
  • Cancer
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Folic acid deficiency

A person suffering from this condition also experiences:

  • Anhedonia
  • Emptiness
  • Reduced mobility
  • Social withdrawal
  • Suicidal thoughts

Worldwide, depressive disorder due to another medical condition affects nearly 3–15% 3 of the population suffering from chronic or acute comorbid physical and psychological ailments.

9. Other types of depression

There are several other types of depression or depressive disorders, including:

I. Bipolar disorder

A person suffering from bipolar disorder (BD) experiences extreme mood swings that include ‘manic’ highs and ‘depressive’ lows. The occurrence of at least one episode of depression (lasting about 2 weeks) and one of mania is required for a diagnosis of BD. Bipolar depression 16 tends to be distressing and crippling due to the serious risk of suicide.

Read More About Bipolar Disorder Here

II. Mixed anxiety–depressive disorder (MADD)

Mixed anxiety–depressive disorder (MADD) is a type of mental disorder in which a person experiences mild but equal symptoms related to both clinical anxiety and depression 17. People suffering from MADD also experience physical symptoms, such as intestinal distress or panic attacks.

III. Postpartum depression (PPD)

Postpartum or post-natal depression is a type of mood disorder that mainly occurs in women during pregnancy and after they have given birth. It can take several months or even up to 1 year after delivery to appear.

Read More About Postpartum Depression Here

IV. Psychotic depression

Psychotic depression—also called ‘depression with psychotic episode’—is a severe mental disorder characterized by extreme mood swings, cognitive impairment, delusions, hallucinations, and other psychotic symptoms that reflect traumatic experiences. It is an extremely treatment-resistant psychiatric illness that mandates hospitalization.

Read More About Psychotic Depression Here

V. Atypical depression

Atypical depression 18—also called ‘depression with atypical features’—involves a type of depressive episode in which a person experiences temporary mood improvement in response to actual or potential positive events. This is known as mood reactivity.

VI. Subsyndromal depression

Subsyndromal depression 19 is the depressive state of having two or more symptoms of depression of the same quality as major depression (MD), excluding depressed mood and anhedonia.

Read More About Treatment Of Depression Here


There are different types of depression with varying causes, symptoms, duration, and treatment outcomes. However, all types of depression are common in that they seriously cripple our day-to-day functioning and ability to form relationships.

Hence, depression must not be taken lightly and it should be treated at the earliest with the right diagnosis and treatment methods. This can help people suffering from depressive symptoms and their loved ones lead happier, fulfilling lives.

At A Glance

  1. Depression is a mental disorder in which a person experiences low moods and an aversion to activity.
  2. There are different types of depression and their causes are attributed to varying biological and psychosocial factors.
  3. Each of the depression types comes with its own set of symptoms, duration, and treatment outcomes.
  4. The types of depression enjoy some common symptoms like dampened moods, low self-esteem, anhedonia, social withdrawal, substance use, aggression, etc.
  5. Depression, if untreated, can seriously harm a person’s quality of life and the ability to form meaningful relationships.
  6. Depression may even lead to suicide.
  7. The different types of depression and their symptoms can be easily managed with therapy, medication, and self-help strategies.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Is constant worrying the same as persistent depression?

No, constant worrying is similar to acute anxiety but not persistent depression.

2. What is the difference between minor depression and major depressive disorder?

While both are two types of depression, major and minor depressions differ in their duration and the number of symptoms. Minor depression has fewer symptoms and it lasts briefly—sometimes for less than 2 weeks. Major depressive disorder (MDD), on the other hand, has more symptoms and lasts longer than 2 weeks, before or after diagnosis.

3. What is the strongest risk factor for all types of depression in adolescence and beyond?

The strongest risk factor for depression in adolescence and beyond involves a family history of depression and exposure to psychosocial stress.

4. What is high functioning depression?

High-functioning depression is a type of mental disorder in which a person functions normally, despite suffering from the symptoms of depression. People with this type of depression appear to have perfect lives—because of which the depressive symptoms go undetected and unaddressed.

5. Can you have more than one type of depression?

Yes, a person can have more than one type of depression because of a mental state called “double depression”. In it, the symptoms of two specific types of depression overlap.

6. What is self-treatment for depression?

Self-treatment for depression involves natural self-help techniques that help us manage the symptoms of depression and related stress, anxiety, etc. These strategies may include meditation, yoga, mindfulness training, developing hobbies, cultivating gratitude, journaling, etc.

7. What is an intensive treatment for depression?

Intensive treatment for depression includes in-patient and out-patient intensive therapy programs to address the symptoms of depression.

8. What is the psychedelic treatment for depression?

Psychedelic treatment for depression involves the use of psychedelic drugs (like psilocybin) to increase the connectivity between the brain’s various networks and reduce the severity of the depressive symptoms. Such treatment may also involve psychedelic therapy.

👇 References:
  1. Benazzi F. (2006). Various forms of depression. Dialogues in clinical neuroscience, 8(2), 151–161. https://doi.org/10.31887/DCNS.2006.8.2/fbenazzi []
  2. Kennedy S. H. (2008). Core symptoms of major depressive disorder: relevance to diagnosis and treatment. Dialogues in clinical neuroscience, 10(3), 271–277. https://doi.org/10.31887/DCNS.2008.10.3/shkennedy []
  3. Bains N, Abdijadid S. Major Depressive Disorder. [Updated 2022 Jun 1]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK559078/ [][]
  4. Chen, J., Wang, Z., & Fang, Y. (2016). The History, Diagnosis and Treatment of Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder. Shanghai archives of psychiatry, 28(5), 289–292. https://doi.org/10.11919/j.issn.1002-0829.216071 []
  5. Parker, G., & Tavella, G. (2018). Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder: A Critical Perspective. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 63(12), 813–815. https://doi.org/10.1177/0706743718789900 []
  6. Baweja, R., Mayes, S. D., Hameed, U., & Waxmonsky, J. G. (2016). Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder: current insights. Neuropsychiatric disease and treatment, 12, 2115–2124. https://doi.org/10.2147/NDT.S100312 []
  7. Sansone, R. A., & Sansone, L. A. (2009). Dysthymic disorder: forlorn and overlooked?. Psychiatry [Edgmont (Pa. : Township)], 6(5), 46–51. []
  8. Kessler, R. C., Avenevoli, S., Costello, E. J., Green, J. G., Gruber, M. J., Heeringa, S., Merikangas, K. R., Pennell, B. E., Sampson, N. A., & Zaslavsky, A. M. (2009). Design and field procedures in the US National Comorbidity Survey Replication Adolescent Supplement (NCS-A). International journal of methods in psychiatric research, 18(2), 69–83. https://doi.org/10.1002/mpr.279 []
  9. Munir S, Abbas M. Seasonal Depressive Disorder. [Updated 2022 Mar 26]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK568745/ []
  10. Melrose S. (2015). Seasonal Affective Disorder: An Overview of Assessment and Treatment Approaches. Depression research and treatment, 2015, 178564. https://doi.org/10.1155/2015/178564 []
  11. Bielecki JE, Gupta V. Cyclothymic Disorder. [Updated 2021 Nov 20]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK557877/ [][]
  12. Mishra S, Elliott H, Marwaha R. Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. [Updated 2022 May 5]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK532307/ []
  13. Jha, R. K., & Jha, M. (2022). Prevalence of Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder among Female Students of a Medical College in Nepal: A Descriptive Cross-sectional Study. JNMA; journal of the Nepal Medical Association, 60(245), 72–76. https://doi.org/10.31729/jnma.7227 []
  14. Revadigar N, Gupta V. Substance Induced Mood Disorders. [Updated 2021 Nov 21]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK555887/ [][]
  15. InformedHealth.org [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. Types of depression. [Updated 2020 Jun 18]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279288/ []
  16. Baldessarini, R. J., Vázquez, G. H., & Tondo, L. (2020). Bipolar depression: a major unsolved challenge. International journal of bipolar disorders8(1), 1. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40345-019-0160-1 []
  17. Kara, S., Yazici, K. M., Güleç, C., & Unsal, I. (2000). Mixed anxiety-depressive disorder and major depressive disorder: comparison of the severity of illness and biological variables. Psychiatry research, 94(1), 59–66. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0165-1781(00)00131-1 []
  18. Łojko, D., & Rybakowski, J. K. (2017). Atypical depression: current perspectives. Neuropsychiatric disease and treatment, 13, 2447–2456. https://doi.org/10.2147/NDT.S147317 []
  19. da Silva Lima, A. F., & de Almeida Fleck, M. P. (2007). Subsyndromal depression: an impact on quality of life?. Journal of affective disorders, 100(1-3), 163–169. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2006.10.010 []