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Author: Dr Olukemi AkanleConsultant Psychiatrist

There is more than one type of depression and knowing which type of depression you or a loved one has, is the first step to finding the most effective treatment. We can help.

Mild to major depressive disorder

Sufferers of depression have a sense of despair, with symptoms that make it hard to do normal daily tasks such as eating, sleeping, working or being with friends and family. These depression symptoms can vary with severity.

It is the severity and level of impact on the person’s life that will determine the subset of depression someone is suffering with.

Those suffering with depression will experience a wide variety of symptoms, ranging from crying for no obvious reason, feeling irritable or angry, finding it incredibly hard to motivate themselves or even get out of bed and may turn to alcohol or drugs to make them feel better.

A period of depression may last for a few weeks or can last several years in its severe form. Depression often reoccurs, which can be very difficult and distressing for both the patient and their loved ones.

Depression is the leading cause of disease burden in most regions of the world


Mixed depressive and anxiety disorder

The most common mental health condition in the UK is depression with anxiety.

There is often a relationship between the two issues; people who suffer with depression can be left feeling emotionally drained and hopeless about how they will manage in the future which can then cause anxiety.

It is also possible for someone with an anxiety disorder to develop depression – often because their anxiety symptoms result in very low self-esteem, social isolation and a decline in their support network.


Dysthymia

Dysthymia is a persistent mood disorder. Symptoms of dysthymia are not severe enough or last long enough to meet the criteria for a recurrent mild depressive disorder.

Dysthymia includes constant or constantly recurring low moods that should be present for a period of at least two years for a diagnosis to be made. Dysthymia often lasts for several years.

Sufferers may have short periods of improved mood, but these often do not last more than a few weeks. The chronic feelings of lowness, lack of energy and sadness can be brutal on all those involved and have a serious impact on the individual’s life.

Left untreated 90% of those with dysthymia are likely to develop major depression1.

1 Hellerstein, D. (2011)

By 2020, depression will be the 2nd leading cause of disability


Cyclothymia

Cyclothymia is a persistent mood disorder where sufferers can fluctuate between hypomania and mild depression, sometimes punctuated with spells of feeling ‘normal’. None of the manifestations of depression or hypomania should be sufficiently severe or long lasting to meet criteria for manic episode or depressive episode.

Cyclothymia can often go undiagnosed because the symptoms are milder. If undiagnosed there is an increased risk of developing full-blown bipolar affective disorder at a later stage.

Read more about cyclothymia

The help I have received has been invaluable, the doctor was really kind and she was very thorough. My report was so comprehensive and I have lots of things I can try to get things back on track now

Stuart, Weymouth


Seasonal Affective disorder (SAD)

This condition is also sometimes referred to as Winter Blues or Winter Depression. It is usually brought on by the reduced amount of light we experience in the winter months.

It is thought that the low light levels impact on brain activity, resulting in feelings of sadness, lack of motivation and irritability. Treatment options are available for treating SAD, including light therapy.

Read more about Seasonal Affective Disorder


Postnatal depression

PND is a serious condition that can have a long lasting impact on a woman and her family. In recent years there has been growing recognition that it is not only the woman who has given birth that can develop postnatal depression – her partner is also at greater risk of developing postnatal depression.

Coping with a new baby can be extremely tiring and difficult at the best of times, but when the mother is feeling depressed it can be truly difficult time. Postnatal depression is a serious condition that can escalate to Postnatal psychosis - putting both the mother and her new born at risk.

Effective treatment options are available and reaching out early is absolutely key.

Read more about Postnatal depression

Seeking help as early as possible for postnatal depression is really important as this group of patients can, in some cases, go on to develop postnatal psychosis – a condition which places significant risk to both them and the baby. Unfortunately, patients are often reluctant to see a psychiatrist as they may worry this means they have failed somehow
MBBS, MRCPsych

Consultant Psychiatrist
London

Dr Olukemi Akanle is a knowledgeable Consultant Psychiatrist currently working for Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust. She has a Medical Degree and is a Member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists.


Treatment resistant depression

This is a severe and chronic form of depression where the symptoms do not fully improve or keep returning.

Despite the name, treatment options are available; the first step is to get an accurate diagnosis. Once a diagnosis has been made, medication and talking therapies can be used effectively.

Read more about Treatment resistant depression


Bipolar Affective disorder

Bipolar affective disorder is a serious illness that sees sufferers fluctuate between low and high moods. The episodes of low mood are usually severe enough for a diagnosis of depression to be made. The episodes of elated mood also have to meet the criteria for hypomania or mania. Manic episodes can be especially challenging as sufferers can put themselves at risk of harm or exploitation or become risks to others.

There are two types of Bipolar Affective disorder. A person with Bipolar I disorder has experienced at least one manic episode while in Bipolar II disorder; the person will have experienced an episode of hypomania, never reaching full mania. The duration and the severity of the mood can be different for different people. There are some very effective treatment options for Bipolar, including medication and talking therapies.

Read more about Bipolar

 

Taking a detailed history will aid your Psychiatrist in making the right diagnosis. It is important that you are correctly diagnosed as this will ensure you receive adequate treatment. Although Affective Disorders can have overlapping symptoms, it is important that not to miss symptoms that differentiate them from others in the same category as this can lead to misdiagnosis
MBBS, MRCPsych

Consultant Psychiatrist
London

Dr Olukemi Akanle is a knowledgeable Consultant Psychiatrist currently working for Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust. She has a Medical Degree and is a Member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

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