TYPES OF DEPRESSIVE CONDITIONS DEPRESSED MOOD DUE TO GRIEF Grieving the loss of someone significant in ones life is a necessary but usually painful and difficult process. The symptoms of grieving are actually a very normal and healthy reaction to the death of a family member, lover, or friend. The grieving process may involve guilt, despair, anger, insomnia, changes in appetite, and obsessive thoughts about the lost person, and in some cases people report transiently seeing the image or hearing the voice of the deceased person. So what distinguishes these normal reactions from abnormal ones Well, to put it simply, TIME. According to the DSM-IV, a normal reaction to loss lasts about two months on average. If depressive symptoms continue, it is time to make a call to a professional for further help.

Another diagnosis, such as Major Depressive Disorder, might be more appropriate. ADJUSTMENT DISORDER WITH DEPRESSED MOOD Adjustment disorder with depressed mood usually occurs as a response to an identifiable life event that is stressful. Sometimes, rolling with change is harder than usual, and life begins to feel out of control, causing symptoms like feeling stressed out, hopeless, tearful, and down in the dumps more than usual. These symptoms must have developed within three months after the onset of the stressful event or stressors and mostly resolve within six months after the stress has past. If symptoms continue, then it is time to consult with a professional. DYSTHYMIA Dysthymia is a chronic depressed mood usually described as mild, low-grade depression.

Symptoms include problems with appetite (either over- or under eating), sleep disturbances, feelings of hopelessness, lack of energy, poor self-image, and inability to concentrate. These folk often have felt down pretty much their entire lives and constantly battle negativity. The criteria for dysthymia require the presence of a depressed mood for more days than not over a period of at least two years. Many people are not aware that they have been struggling with dysthymia for years, sometimes most of their lives. People with dysthymia are able to work and participate in life, but they feel that life is too demanding and is a struggle much of the time.

Sometimes trying to find the energy just to make it through another day is difficult. Life usually feels hard and blah for these folks. Feeling melancholic about life is just the way it is, unless they seek treatment. One person being successfully treated for dysthymia described the change as follows: For the first time in my life I feel like the gray curtain has been lifted. I have more energy, I hear the birds chirp, I see colors instead of gray, and I feel part of the human race. MAJOR DEPRESSION Major depression is more acute and noticeably more debilitating than dysthymia.

Symptoms must have been present for at least two weeks and represent a change from ones usual level of functioning. The symptoms of major depression occur nearly every day, and some last most of the day. These people: feel sad and empty or are noticed by others as appearing sad or tearful feel heavy and bring little energy to their regular routine feel a significant loss of interest in life and in pleasurable and fulfilling activities experience significant weight loss or weight gain, sleep disturbances, and intense feelings of guilt or worthlessness. have suicidal thoughts and even attempts to commit suicide, which are the most serious symptoms. Work, relationships, and self-perception are all severely disrupted by major depression. If you are having suicidal thoughts or are feeling suicidal or know of someone who is, it essential to contact a mental health professional immediately.

BIPOLAR DISORDERS OR MANIC DEPRESSIVE ILLNESS Bipolar disorders are less prevalent than other forms of depression. Affected people experience cycles of mood changes ranging from severe highs (mania) to severe lows (depression). Usually the mood swings are gradual, but sometimes they are dramatic and rapid. During the lows, one experiences the symptoms for depression as described above. When experiencing the manic swing, one may have an abundance of energy and may become over talkative and overactive. Usually ones thinking, judgment, and social behavior are affected.

While in a manic phase one may feel invincible and godlike and may make poor decisions in all areas of life. Such behavior can result in embarrassment and in some circumstances can be life threatening. Mania has the potential to worsen to a psychotic state if not treated by a professional. SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is often referred to as the winter blues. Because there is less sunlight during the winter months, some people become depressed. Treatment usually consists of increasing ones exposure to light, referred to as phototherapy.

POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION Some new mothers experience such a profound hormonal change following delivery that they feel depressed rather than elated. Nearly two-thirds of women feel temporary sadness, and 15% become clinically depressed. Some women become so severely depressed that they are hospitalized to protect both mother and baby.