What are the different depressive disorders?
The types of depression are defined in the DSM-IV by the different types of mood disorders. There are two main types of disorders, namely unipolar disorders and bipolar disorders.
Distinctions are also made within each disorder according to the number of symptoms, the duration of the disorders, the consequences of the disorder on daily life, the particular period of onset or the existence of related particularities. Remember that if you recognize signs of depression in yourself or a loved one, a medical diagnosis is still necessary.
There are two type of depression:
- Unipolar Disorder
- Bipolar or manic-depressive disorders
Unipolar disorders correspond to the first category of mood disorders described by the DSM-IV. Within this category there are two forms of disorders:
- Major depressive disorder
- Dysthymic disorder
Each of these disorders has similar characteristics in terms of symptoms, the general basis of which will be depressed mood or general disinterest and loss of pleasure. However, these disorders differ in the number of symptoms present and in the duration of their installation.
Symptoms of unipolar diseases are:
- depressed mood
- General disinterest and/or loss of pleasure
- Evolution of weight
- Sleeping troubles
- Evolution of psychomotor behavior
- Feeling of worthlessness
- Cognitive disorders
What is Major Depressive Disorder?
A major depressive episode, to be diagnosed as such, must necessarily include a depressed mood or a marked lack of interest combined with other symptoms characterizing depression (change in weight, sleep disorders, change in psychomotor behavior, fatigue, feeling of worthlessness and cognitive disorders). Major depressive disorder is characterized by the occurrence of one or more major depressive episodes.
For the depressive disorder to be recognized, these symptoms must be present almost every day and throughout the day for a period of two weeks.
During the diagnosis, the suffering of the person will be taken into account as well as the consequences of this disorder on their daily life, their family and social relationships and their professional activities.
Despite all its features, the diagnosis of major depressive disorder will not be retained if the symptoms are due to the effects of a substance or a general medical condition or to the recent bereavement of a loved one.
Some major depressive episodes have a particular character not by their symptom but by the period of onset of the disorder.
Two Types of Major Depressive Disorder
- Seasonal depression (beginning of the episode in the fall and end of the episode in the spring)
- Postpartum depression (following childbirth)
Seasonal depression: definition, causes, symptoms and treatments
In France, nearly 1 person in 10 is affected by seasonal depression, with geographical inequalities. People living in northern regions, who rarely go out or who work in the dark, and women seem to be the most predisposed to seasonal depression.
What is seasonal depression?
Seasonal depression, also known as SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) or SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), is a major depressive state linked to the change of seasons and more specifically to the lack of natural light. To speak of true depression, this disorder must appear every year during the dark period (autumn / winter) and for at least two consecutive years.
Seasonal depression is to be distinguished from the winter blues.
- loss of tone,
- craving for sweets,
- simple mood changes… As for seasonal depression,
- the symptoms are more severe and can be comparable for some to “conventional” depression.
The causes of seasonal depression
Dr. Norman E. Rosenthal, psychiatrist and researcher at the National Institute of Mental Health, was the first to demonstrate, in 1984, the link between light and the various disorders occurring in winter.
According to his research, seasonal depression is the consequence of hormonal changes induced by the decrease in light:
- An abnormal increase in the production of the sleep hormone during the day: melatonin. The internal biological clock (wake/sleep cycle) is then disturbed.
- A decrease in the production of the well-being hormone: serotonin. This neurotransmitter which allows, among other things, the regulation of mood, sleep, eating behavior, emotionality is thus disturbed.
- Therefore, the dysregulation of these 2 hormones can be significant enough to cause symptoms related to depression. These disorders will disappear in the spring when the days are brighter and return the following fall.
symptoms of seasonal depression:
- Mood disorders (Irritability, mood swings, etc.)
- Chronic fatigue and drowsiness
- Loss of interest in activities
- Energy loss
- Lack of concentration
- Difficulty making decisions
- Significant stress
- Sleep disorders (insomnia)
- Decreased libido
- Withdrawal and isolation
- Sugar cravings and weight gain
- Dark or suicidal thoughts
Treatments for seasonal depression
The specific treatment for seasonal depression is light therapy. It was Dr. Rosenthal who discovered the importance of exposing people with seasonal depression to broad-spectrum artificial light. The treatment is simple, effective with a success rate of up to 75%, and free of side effects.
If your symptoms are severe, your doctor may also prescribe antidepressants and follow-up psychotherapy to help you overcome this seasonal affective disorder.
What is postpartum depression?
Postpartum or perinatal depression is a disease that affects between 10 and 15% of women during the year following childbirth. Postpartum depression is not to be confused with the baby blues. The latter is a transient disorder that manifests itself just after the birth of the child. This disorder is most often linked to fatigue (lack of sleep), hormonal upheavals and increased stress (worry about her baby, doubts about her ability to take care of him, etc.), but it is easily overcome.
As for postpartum depression, it is a major depressive state that appears a few weeks to a few months after childbirth and which drags on. It is not to be taken lightly because it can distort the mother-child bond, unbalance the family unit and in the worst case, lead to abuse. The consequences can be significant for the child with essentially affective and behavioral disorders.
Symptoms of Postpartum Depression
- The significant anxiety
- Worthlessness or excessive guilt
- mood disorders
- Isolation and withdrawal
- Morbid or suicidal thoughts
- Permanent tiredness
- The deep sadness
- Sleep disturbances (insomnia)
- Inability to properly care for the child
- disinterest in activities
- Lack of appetite
Postpartum depression in the father
If mothers are more predisposed to postpartum depression, we can also find this depressive state in fathers. More than 10% of new dads would be affected by this disease due to the changes caused by the arrival of the newborn.
Therefore, if you are faced with postpartum depression, it is essential not to remain isolated and to speak to your doctor.
What is dysthymic disorder?
This depressive disorder is less intense in terms of symptoms than major depressive disorder. Nevertheless, it must last much longer to be diagnosed, i.e. two years without a symptom-free period of more than two months.
The basis of the symptoms is chronic depressed mood combined with at least two other symptoms characterizing depression (loss of pleasure, change in weight, sleep disturbances, change in psychomotor behavior, fatigue, feeling of worthlessness and cognitive disorders).