Different types of depression
There are three main categories under which most types of depression are classified. Temporary, Moderate or Severe. Some experts prefer to call Temporary Depression as Mild Depression and Severe Depression as Major Depression. There are still other types of depression like, Bipolar Disorder (or Manic Depression), Dysthymia and Adjustment disorders with depression.
Temporary Sadness :
This type of depression generally happens after there is a death in the family, a divorce or some other major disappointment. Depressed people seem to be aware of the reason for their feeling sad (or miserable) but cannot get rid of that feeling. This kind of 'reactive depression' begins to affect their daily routine. Support, understanding, a little warmth and sharing of grief by family members and friends is often enough to relieve the symptoms.
Moderate Depression :
Moderately depressed people often feel that their lives are falling apart. Such depression may be caused by Adjustment Disorders. Like an illness or sudden death in the family, the loss of a lucrative job or a marriage break-up. It takes a fairly long time for moderately depressed people to get out this situation. It generally requires the help of medications and maybe, some psychotherapy and/or counselling. If moderate depression is not treated in time there is always the danger of the person slipping into what is described as major depression. Such depression affects a person's career and family life. Typically, they can hold on to their jobs but they in turn are non-productive; they can stay with their family and friends but do not enjoy their company.
Severe Depression :
Severely depressed people feel like they have fallen into a black hole or a bottomless pit. They are quite convinced that things are in a very bad shape and that they will only get worse. They cannot cope with their daily routine. As compared to a moderately depressed person, severely depressed people may absent themselves from work. They can see their life, family, career falling apart but are unable to do anything about it. They may even harbour suicidal tendencies. Anyone who is severely depressed should (and with full encouragement from others) seek immediate professional care and help.
Bipolar Disorder :
Earlier called manic-depression. It is a relatively uncommon medical illness. A person suffering from Bipolar Disorder exhibits extreme mood swings from 'low' to 'high'. During the so called 'low' phase, the depressed people exhibit symptoms of Major depression (mentioned above). While in the 'high' (manic) phase, they believe they are capable of doing anything, like embarking on risky business ventures, sexual relationships or go on spending sprees. They often speak very rapidly and may jump from one subject to the next.
People with bipolar disorder are usually unaware that there is a problem with them. Some of them may spend months together in one phase and then swing to the other extreme, while others swing between the two extremes more frequently. Bipolar depression, which is caused by chemical imbalances can be treated with proper medications.
This is sometimes referred to as Chronic Depression. It is characterised by many of the symptoms that are seen in major depression. Though much less intense, the symptoms tend to last much longer. Dysthymia is described as a "veil of sadness". In this type of depression, there may not be disturbances in sleep, appetite, sexual drive etc. Suicidal thoughts are usually not present. However the family, social, professional lives of such persons may be impaired because they exhibit a much lower level of physical and emotional energy.