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Five types of depression in adolescents, teens and college-aged individuals

May 06 2015

The effects of depression can seriously impact someone’s life and in some cases lead to suicidal thoughts or plans and a preoccupation with death and dying, according to the American Psychiatric Association (APA).

The APA offers a number of signs and symptoms to watch for, including how to differentiate between the five types of depression that can afflict adolescents, teens and college-aged individuals. The value of differentiating between the types of depression is that there may be specific treatment options. They include:

  1. Major depression: A severe depression that many people think of as clinical depression.  In most cases, there is a genetic predisposition and it may not be triggered by any life event. This type of depression responds best to antidepressant medication. Sometimes medication is needed for a limited period of time; other times people stay on it indefinitely.

  2. Bipolar depression: The depression component is very similar to major depression, however, there are distinct periods of an elevated mood or a highly irritable mood between depressive episodes. One significant difference between bipolar depression and major depression lies with the treatment approaches. It’s essential not to treat bipolar depression with just an antidepressant. A mood stabilizer is also needed.

  3. Persistent depressive disorder: Formerly called dysthymic disorder, it is a chronic, low-grade form that produces low self-esteem and general feelings of pessimism, which can last for years. Persistent depressive disorder may respond better to therapy approaches than medications.

  4. Adjustment disorder with depressive features: The depressed mood is in reaction to something that has happened. The change in mood is related in timing and severity to an event in the person’s life. Examples could include: relationship break-ups, loneliness, or adjusting to college life. Treatment that is focused on the underlying stress can be more effective than other interventions.

  5. Depression related to medical conditions: Some medical conditions, such as hormonal issues, or a head injury with trauma to a particular region of the brain, can produce depression as a symptom. Treatment that is focused at the underlying medical condition is more likely to have an impact.