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Types of depression


WebMD Medical Reference
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

Depression is estimated to affect around one in 10 people in the UK at some stage in their life. It affects men and women of all ages. Around 4% of children aged five to 16 have also been affected by depression.

The reasons for depression may be many and varied, including events in a person's life, such as bereavement, family problems or unemployment. In other cases, there may be no obvious cause.

Depression isn’t just one mental health condition. Learn more about the different types of depression.

Depression diagnosis

A GP may carry out a physical examination and arrange urine or blood tests to rule out conditions which may have some symptoms in common with depression, such as hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid).

Depression diagnosis will be based on answers a person gives to the GP about how they feel and the way symptoms are affecting their mental health and physical health in general.

The UK uses depression diagnosis guidelines from the World Health Organisation.

Depression symptoms include no longer taking pleasure from previously enjoyable activities, irritability, tiredness, feeling worthlessness, suicidal thoughts, sleep problems, difficulty concentrating and memory problems.

Depression types

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) defines mild, moderate and severe depression as:

  • Mild depression: Having a small number of symptoms with a limited effect on daily life.
  • Moderate depression: More symptoms having an impact on daily life.
  • Severe depression: Many symptoms making daily life extremely difficult.

Other types of depression include:

Postnatal depression: Experienced by some women, and some men, after the birth of a child.

Bipolar disorder: Sometimes known as manic depression in which a person swings between periods of being depressed and periods of heightened, or elated, mood.

Seasonal affective disorder: Also known as SAD or winter depression where symptoms usually appear in the winter months but can occur at other times of the year.

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Reviewed on May 31, 2013

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