Types of Depression

Major Depression (Major Depressive Disorder)

Major depression is the technical term used by health professionals and researchers to describe the most common type of depression. This type of depression can be described as mild, moderate or severe.


Melancholia is an older term for depression and is still sometimes used to describe a more severe form of depression with a strong biological basis, where many of the physical symptoms of depression are particularly evident. One of the major changes is that the person can be observed to move more slowly, to have a depressed mood that is characterized by complete loss of pleasure in almost everything or to be experiencing significant changes to their sleep pattern and appetite.

Dysthymia (Persistent Depressive Disorder)

The symptoms of dysthymia are similar to those of major depression but are less severe and more persistent. A person has to have this milder depression for more than two years to be diagnosed with dysthymia.

Psychotic Depression

Sometimes, people with a depressive condition can lose touch with reality. This is known as psychotic depression and can involve hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not there) or delusions (false beliefs that are not shared by others), such as believing they are bad or evil, or that they are being watched or followed or that everyone is against them.

Antenatal and Postnatal Depression

Women are at an increased risk of depression during pregnancy and in the year following childbirth. The causes of depression at this time can be complex and are often the result of a combination of factors. In the days immediately following birth, many women experience the ‘baby blues’, which is a common condition related to hormonal changes, affecting up to 80 percent of women who have given birth.

Depression is longer lasting and can affect not only the mother but her relationship with her baby, the child’s development, the mother’s relationship with her partner and with other members of the family.

Bipolar Disorder (Manic Depression)

Bipolar disorder describes the condition when the person experiences periods of depression and periods of mania with periods of normal mood in between. The symptoms of mania are opposite to the symptoms of depression and can vary in intensity.

Because bipolar disorder includes periods of depression, it is not uncommon for a person with bipolar disorder to be misdiagnosed as having major depression until they have a manic or hypomanic episode.

Cyclothymic Disorder

Cyclothymic disorder is an uncommon condition which is often described as a milder form of bipolar disorder. The person experiences chronic fluctuating moods over at least two years, involving periods of hypomania, a mild to moderate level of mania and periods of depressive symptoms, with very short periods, no more than two months of normality between.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

This is a mood disorder that has a seasonal pattern. The cause is unclear but may be related to the variation in light exposure in different seasons. It is characterized by mood disturbances that begin and end in a particular season.