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What Kind of Depression Do I Have?

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Contrary to popular opinion, depression is a mental disorder that can come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The National Institute of Mental health defines a major depressive disorder as one that features a combination of symptoms that in some way wreck an individual’s ability to eat, study, sleep, work or enjoy doing things that they once derived pleasure from.

Often, people misinterpret a few days of sadness or loneliness for true, chronic clinical depression. The mark of the aforementioned form of depression, however, is how disabling it is on a long-term basis when it comes to doing things that a person once loved.

To qualify as having major clinical depression, one of the symptoms that a sufferer is experiencing must either be loss of interest in a once-enjoyed activity or an especially long depressed mood. Further, these symptoms must either cause bouts of mental distress or some sort of interference in day-to-day functioning. Finally, these symptoms cannot be the byproduct of substance abuse, a medical condition or within two months within the loss of a loved one.

Dysthymia, or chronic depression, is noted when depressed mood symptoms persist for a long period of time (two or more years). This form of depression, although potentially rehabilitating in some aspects of life, is considered less severe than major depression.

Atypical depression, another form of the disorder, is generally accompanied by a number of symptoms. These symptoms include, but aren’t limited to: fatigue, extreme sensitivity to an assortment of topics, oversleeping and strange eating habits.

Finally, bipolar disorder is a complex condition that features moments of either extreme elation or extreme mania. There are two subgroups within the bipolar disorder category. Bipolar I disorder is characterized by its sufferers having had at least one manic episode with or without depressive episodes. Bipolar II disorder is usually experienced by patients who have a history of at minimum one major episode of depression and at least one hypomanic episode.

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