Frequently Asked Questions

3. What are the different types of depression?

Major depressive disorder, also called major depression or clinical depression, is characterized by a combination of symptoms that interfere with your ability to work, sleep, concentrate, eat, and enjoy activities you once liked. Major depression keeps a person from functioning normally.

Dysthymic disorder, or dysthymia, is a less severe but sometimes more long-lasting form of depression. It is characterized by symptoms lasting two years or longer that keep you from functioning normally or feeling well.

Subsyndromal depression, affecting many older adults, includes real symptoms of depression that are less severe than major depression or dysthymia. Having sybsydromal depression may increase your risk of developing major depression.

Psychotic depression occurs when a person has severe depression plus some form of psychosis, such as having disturbing false beliefs or a break with reality (delusions), or hearing or seeing upsetting things that others cannot hear or see (hallucinations).

Bipolar depression also called manic-depressive illness, is not as common as major depression or dysthymia. Bipolar disorder is characterized by cycling mood changes—from extreme highs (e.g., mania) to extreme lows (e.g., depression).