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Am I Depressed? Depression Types, Causes, and Treatment

Have you been asking yourself lately, “Am I depressed?”

It’s a much more common question than you might think.

Depression is a serious (though treatable) mental illness that comes in many different forms.

Unfortunately, the media, television, and popular culture oftentimes make depression look a certain way (ie, someone who never showers or gets out of bed).

If you’re wondering if you’re suffering from depression, there are a few things to consider, including depression types, your current situation, and how you personally embody depression.

If You’re Asking Yourself, “Am I Depressed,” Then Here’s What You Need to Know

It wasn’t until this year that I realized just how many forms of depression exist.

There’s Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD), Situational Depression, and many more.

Understanding that there are a variety of symptoms on the spectrum of depression is important because we don’t want to pigeonhole ourselves into a particular idea of what depression “should” look like.

While you may want to look at the DSM V for some guidance when it comes to signs and symptoms, the DSM V is subjective and may not always be a helpful tool.

Below I outline a few different types of depression to show just how much of a range there is and what each of them looks like.

Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)

Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is a severe, long-term, chronic illness.

In my personal experience with this diagnosis, this is something that, no matter what I did to feel better, I couldn’t feel good.

Even though I was a good student, had friends, and appeared “successful” in my life, I was still unhappy. So, you don’t need to be stuck in your bed all day to be classified as depressed (though some people do experience depression this way).

I unintentionally lost weight fast, couldn’t sleep, and suffered from suicidal thoughts.

Your “outside” might look better than your “inside.”

A lot of times we look to external things to make us feel better, but when that never changes, the constant nagging of anxiety, sadness, exhaustion, and overall dissatisfaction in life continue.

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)

PMS symptoms, such as feeling overall more emotional, are relatively common. However, for some people who get periods, they fall into a deep depressive state 1–2 weeks before their period.

This can look like frequent crying, inability to function as you normally do, and feeling tired and drained.

For this, many people take depression medication (or increase their dose) around the projected time of their symptoms.

Situational Depression

The name implies how this depression operates—it is more so based on your situation and how it gets processed.

This kind of depression is triggered when something stressful or traumatic happens in your life, such as the death of a loved one, moving, or relationship issues.

You may suffer from symptoms of depression like chronic fatigue and decreased appetite when going through this particular time, but you might not necessarily have depression that is long-lasting, like MDD.

You might go on medication or go to therapy for a shorter period of time to help treat your symptoms.

There Are Many Other Types of Depression

These are just 3 of many different types of depression, if you’re asking yourself, “Am I depressed?” then start by looking into these 3 types.

Depression may show itself in other disorders, such as:

Regardless of what kind of depression you might have, there is a range of overlapping symptoms of depression that you may experience, such as:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Suicidal thoughts/ideation
  • Loss of interest in activities normally enjoyed
  • Disinterest in socializing
  • Headaches
  • Digestive/gastrointestinal issues
  • Achiness without a specific cause

The Difference Between Depression and a Bad Mood

What has helped me in the past decipher between depression or say, just being in a bad mood, is to compare your current, overall wellbeing to a time when you remember being happy.

For example, if you used to go out with friends frequently, got a good night’s sleep, ate well, and enjoyed your normal routine, but recently have had difficulty finding joy in these things, you might be suffering from a bout of depression.

Also consider your current situation in life when you ask yourself, “Am I depressed?”

Even if you’re going through a positive change, change is still a huge stressor and can trigger depressive symptoms.

Perhaps you just moved to your dream home—you might suffer from insomnia because you’re in a new environment. You may also struggle because your friends/family are in a different location from you.

If you’re going through a grieving period, give yourself some time to heal. While it’s normal to suffer from depressive states during a time of grief, you may be suffering from depression if the symptoms persist and become extreme.

Depression Looks Different for Everyone 

Each person may present these symptoms of depression differently.

For example, one person who has depression may have a hard time sleeping, while another person who is also depressed sleeps all day.

Some may overindulge in food as a way to cope—others might have a hard time keeping anything down.

While this might sound contradictory and confusing, it all comes down to the individual.

This is where comparing your normal “happy” state with your current state may be helpful as a way to gauge your mood.

If You’re Wondering, “Am I Depressed?” Try These Depression Treatments/Solutions

If you’re questioning if you are depressed, it may be a good idea to download a mood tracking app.

These apps may ask specific questions tailored to your specific symptoms and track how you’re doing over a period of time.

Having something visually represent your mood is helpful to many people because emotions, especially complex, intense ones, are hard to describe and confront.

Having an app to help track your mood is an excellent tool, not only to see if you’re struggling with depression currently, but to also track your progress over time in your treatment plans.

Seek Depression Therapy No Matter What

Regardless if you’re suffering from depression, I encourage everyone to seek out therapy.

Everyone carries with them self-limiting beliefs, systemic/cultural expectations, stress, and defense mechanisms.

We might not realize what these are until we hit a difficult time in our lives, and by then, we’re perhaps too drained to learn new coping mechanisms.

I find that getting ahead and working with a therapist or coach helps to develop these skills in coping with everyday life stress and may even help with depressive states later in life.

There Is Hope If You Are Depressed

Depression can be debilitating, confusing, impossible, and draining, but depression also shows up in a variety of forms, and there’s plenty of treatment options and plans to help combat it. 

Whether you’re going through chronic depression or situational depression (or any of the many other forms), remember that depression is a treatable illness and that there is hope for you.

To learn more about depression, read this article on Major Depressive Disorder.

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Samantha Mineroff

Samantha Mineroff is a writer, mental health advocate, and aspiring author. In 2018, her paper, “The Rhetoric of Major Depressive Disorder: Performativity and Intra-activity of Emotions in Major Depression” won best seminar paper award at West Chester University of Pennsylvania. At the Poetics And Linguistics Association (PALA) Conference in 2019, she went to The University of Liverpool to present her paper “An Application of Scripts, Schemas, and Negative Accommodation Theory in Leslie Jamison’s The Empathy Exams.” She currently works as a marketing writer for clinical research. She enjoys live jazz, good conversation, and writing letters. You can reach her at sammineroff@gmail.com