Depression as a term often gets thrown about a lot to describe an emotional outlook. Sadness, grief, disappointment, feeling lonely, all these outlooks can be — and often are — labeled as a depressed state. It’s an inaccuracy. In fact, depression is a specific mental health condition with a specific set of symptoms. If for no other reason than treatment purposes, it’s important to keep the meaning of depression genuine.
There are, in fact, various depression forms, contrary to what the average person, and even the person with some knowledge of depression, may think. The most common depression type is dysthymia. Dysthymia is characterized by long-term, chronic depressive symptoms, though dysthymia symptoms never reach the point of becoming disabling. And while it isn’t disabling, dysthymia absolutely does interfere with quality of life, and keeps those suffering with it from achieving high levels of happiness and satisfaction.
A second depression type is major depression. Unlike dysthymia, major depression does reach disabling levels. Chronic depression may continue on unnoticed, but this is less likely with major depression because regular functioning is so considerably affected. Major depression typically occurs episodically, not chronically, perhaps due to the fact that major depression often demands treatment intervention and can’t be overlooked as dysthymia, for example, can. A person may have only one episode of major depression during his or her lifetime, but is more likely to have several.
A third common depression type is bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder can be described as intermittent periods of major depression and states of mania. During a manic state, a person with bipolar disorder may appear exceptionally energetic, talkative, and possibly even euphoric. Inappropriate behavior and poor judgment are common to the bipolar disorder manic state. This swing, sometimes occurring very rapidly, between debilitating depression and mania is a classic indication of bipolar disorder.
Dysthymia, major depression, and bipolar disorder all call for treatment intervention. The treatment approach to dysthymia can involve psychological counseling, psychiatric medication, or a combination of both. Treatment for an episode of major depression almost always involves some form of psychiatric medication, and this is especially true if a major depression episode leads to hospitalization. Bipolar disorder is unanimously treated with medication, with also the typical addition of psychotherapy. Lithium has long been a treatment for bipolar disorder. A case of bipolar disorder that goes untreated will often lead to the afflicted individual having more and more difficulty functioning normally in society, with an eventual possible outcome of considerable medical and / or legal difficulty.