A Closer Look at the Different Types of Depression

By Shubhangi Gupta, Psychologist at Untangle

May 27, 2024

We all feel sad, low, or even hopeless at times. It is a part of the experiences we go through and what makes us human. However, when these feelings of sadness and hopelessness persist across weeks, and grow very intense and unmanageable they become a source for concern and could be an indication of the presence of Depression

According to a 2017 World Health Organization Report, approximately 56 million people in India struggle with depression. It is the most commonly experienced mental health disorder globally, and there has been a 25% increase in its prevalence around the world with the occurrence of the COVID-19 pandemic.   

In this post, we will take a closer look at depression and its causes, symptoms, types, and possible treatment options.

Understanding Depression

Depression is a serious mental health disorder. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-5-TR, depression is characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, emptiness, or hopelessness that are present for at least two weeks. These are accompanied by other changes like loss of interest, fatigue, changes in sleep or diet, and other behavioral and physical health transitions.

Depression affects the way you think and feel about yourself, and can bring up a lot of self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness. It is more than just ‘feeling blue’ or being ‘down in the dumps.’ 

It can create significant difficulties in day-to-day living and functioning where things like diet, quality of sleep, interaction with other people, motivation to work, etc. get impacted. In more severe cases, it can even become difficult to get out of bed and look after basic hygiene like bathing or brushing your teeth. Some people even experience numbness, brain-fog, difficulties with concentration, and forgetfulness.

The Cause of Depression

Depression is considered to be a bio-psycho-social disorder, which means that there is a biological and genetic component to it, but personal psychological and social factors also play a core role in its occurrence. 

Some of the risk factors for depression include. 

  1. Experiencing major life transitions or events that increase stress levels significantly.
  2. Having a family history of depression can indicate a genetic predisposition to it.
  3. Certain personality traits (like self-criticism, low self-esteem, and perfectionistic tendencies) can increase vulnerability to depression.
  4. Unresolved grief or trauma can create a higher chance of developing depression. 
  5. Medical conditions like diabetes, issues with thyroid, PCOS, etc. and the medications used to treat them can create hormonal imbalances that increase the risk for depression. 
  6. The use of substances like alcohol or drugs has also been shown to increase the risk for depression.

Symptoms of Depression

Depression affects each individual differently. Some experience changes in their appetite, while others notice a shift in their routine. A few individuals might struggle to get out of bed or stay motivated to get through the day. 

Some of the common symptoms associated with depression include – 

1. Depression Could Make You Feel –

  • Sadness, hopelessness, or emptiness
  • Increasingly irritated or frustrated
  • Low self-worth or lack in confidence
  • Lonely and withdrawn from others


2. Depression Could Cause Behavioral Symptoms Like

  • A loss of interest in activities that used to be enjoyed
  • Finding it difficult to concentrate
  • Not wanting to go out or engage with others anymore
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Relying on alcohol or substances to cope

3. Depression Could Cause Physical Symptoms Like –

  • Feeling tired or sick all the time
  • Experiencing pain and aches – stomach aches, muscle pain, or headaches
  • Finding it difficult to sleep well
  • Fluctuations in appetite and weight

Different Types of Depression

Depression manifests in various forms, influenced by a combination of factors such as the types of symptoms and their duration, underlying causes, and co-occurring mental health conditions. 

Understanding these distinctions is crucial for accurate diagnosis and effective treatment. Below are detailed descriptions of some commonly observed types of depression:

Clinical or Major Depression 

This is what most people think of when they hear “depression.” This is characterized by persistent low mood, hopelessness, or numbness, loss of interest in activities, changes in appetite and sleep, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, etc. that last for at least two weeks. 

This type of depression creates notable difficulties in daily functioning and can bring up recurrent thoughts of death. 

Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD)

Also known as Dysthymia, individuals with this experience low mood for 2 or more years, lasting most of the day and on most days than not. While individuals might be able to function in their day-to-day lives, they might experience a range of symptoms associated with typical depression like loss of interest in activities, hopelessness, changes in sleep and diet, etc. 

What sets PDD apart is that symptoms may be less severe but more long-lasting in nature.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

This is a type of depression that typically occurs during specific seasons, most commonly in the fall and winter months when daylight hours are shorter. People with SAD may experience symptoms such as low mood, lack of energy, changes in appetite or weight, difficulty concentrating, and increased sleepiness during this time period.

Mental health professionals believe that lack of sunlight and shorter days during winter and fall create imbalances in chemicals like melatonin and serotonin that cause depressive symptoms. Light therapy, psychotherapy, medication, and lifestyle adjustments such as spending more time outdoors during daylight hours can help manage SAD symptoms effectively.

Postpartum Depression (PPD)

This is a medical condition that many women experience after childbirth that persists beyond two weeks after the birth. It is characterized by feelings of sadness, anxiety, and exhaustion that can interfere with daily life and bonding with the newborn. Women with PPD may experience mood swings, irritability, changes in appetite or sleep patterns, and feelings of guilt or worthlessness.  

There are rapid and extreme changes in the levels of hormones like estrogen and progesterone after birth that create chemical changes in the brain which cause mood swings. Additionally, coping with all the new life changes and the lack of rest that comes with having a young infant to take care of can increase vulnerability for depression.   

Psychotic Depression

This is a severe type of depression where individuals start experiencing psychotic symptoms like hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not there) or delusions (false beliefs not based on reality), along with other depressive symptoms. The combination of severe depression and psychosis can significantly impair daily functioning and increase the risk of self-harm or suicide. Medication becomes a very important treatment intervention in this case.  

Bipolar Disorder

This is a mental health condition characterized by extreme mood swings that include periods of mania (elevated mood, high energy, and impulsive behavior) and depression (low mood, loss of interest, and feelings of hopelessness). While it is not a purely depressive condition, individuals with bipolar disorder experience similar symptoms to clinical depression during their depressive episodes. 

Treatment Options for Depression

There are a range of approaches to treating depression. However, the first step is to reach out to a mental health professional to help figure out which of these would work best for you. 

These approaches can be broadly classified into three categories.  


Psychotherapy is a highly effective approach to support individuals in overcoming depression, particularly those with mild to moderate symptoms. 

It helps individuals by pinpointing life events contributing to depression and facilitating acceptance, change, or adaptation to these situations. Therapy aids in identifying distorted thinking patterns or unhelpful behaviors that fuel feelings of hopelessness. 

Individuals also develop coping skills to manage symptoms and problems effectively, potentially preventing future episodes of depression. It also helps individuals reconnect with themselves and their support systems. 

Psychiatric Help and Medication 

If depression starts severely affecting your ability to function and other treatment options are not working, psychiatric assistance might be required. 

A psychiatrist conducts a thorough evaluation of your mental health and might prescribe medications, such as antidepressants, to regulate your mood and help you feel better. 

At times, individuals get psychiatric help in conjunction with psychotherapy.

Lifestyle Changes 

Adding healthy habits to your daily routine can help improve mood and reduce the symptoms of depression. This could involve making lifestyle changes such as – incorporating exercise, avoiding alcohol, having a balanced diet, regulating the sleep cycle, and practicing mindfulness techniques.

If you’re in severe distress, or feel suicidal, here’s a reliable list of helplines in India that you could reach out to.

If you feel like you need to talk to a mental health professional, we are just a call or message away. At Untangle, we believe that everybody deserves access to quality mental health services

Our trained psychotherapists are committed to providing you with the support you need to deal with depression or any other mental health condition. Take the first step and schedule a call with our team today.