There are several different types of depression:
- major depressive disorder
- chronic depression
- treatment resistance depression
- seasonal affective disorder
- postpartum depression.
Bipolar disorder, an HSP illness, is also considered a depressive disorder.
Depression in Highly Sensitive People
Highly sensitive people are at greater risk for various types of depression for a number of reasons:
- their sensitive nervous systems become easily overwhelmed leading to chronic stress. HSPs can become depressed because of their condition and their difficulties handling it.
- HSPs sensitivity makes them very empathetic and they can become depressed about all the violence and abuse in the world.
- highly sensitive people suffer from many chronic illnesses. Chronic illness is one of the factors in depression according to the CDC.
- HSPs are different and do not fit in because their empathetic natures are the antithesis of competitive individualism. They can become targets of bullies and although they need and enjoy time alone can become lonely.
- HSPs are conscientious people who often work hard but are
frequently overlooked. They can feel devalued in their work which
can cause depression.
Major Depressive Disorder
According to the National Institutes of Mental Health, a major depressive episode generally lasts for a period of six months and often reoccurs in the individual's lifetime.
A major depressive disorder is occurring when a person suffers from depressed feelings continuously over a period of a minimum of two weeks or also loses interest in life and all activities. This condition is debilitating; individuals suffering from major depressive disorder are unable to function until the depression lifts. The disorder is often accompanied by feelings of despair and hopelessness.
Major depressive disorder is not related to drug use or medication and is considered a separate condition from the grief that occurs from the loss of a loved one.
Chronic Types of Depression or Dysthymia
Chronic types of depression which affects more than 10 million people over the age of 18 according to NIMH, lasts for years. Although it does not have the disabling characteristic of a major depressive disorder, it does inhibit full functioning.
According to WebMD, a diagnosis of chronic depression is indicated if a person has reduced functioning along with other typical depression symptoms for a minimum of two years.
Chronic depression is characterized by negative feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, guilt and sadness, along with sleep and eating difficulties, low energy, apathy and sluggishness, as well as assorted physical symptoms and sometimes thoughts of suicide.
According to Harvard University's Health Publications, in an article by Ann MacDonald, two-thirds of people with a major depressive disorder do not respond to the first treatment plan, and as many as one-third do not respond to any treatment.
Treatment Resistant Depression
Treatment resistant depression, also called refractory depression according to WebMD is common. Treatment resistant depression is exactly what it sounds like - a major depressive disorder that does not respond to treatment. Sometimes is takes multiple treatment attempts before a successful treatment plan is formulated. There are cases which do not respond to any treatment.
According to Harvard University's Health Publications, in an article by Ann MacDonald, two-thirds of people with a major depressive disorder do not respond to the first treatment plan, and as many as one-third do not respond to any treatment. Massachusetts General Hospital conducted a study of 4,000 participants in the Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression (STAR*D) study combining a questionnaire and the medication Celexa as a treatment.
What they discovered was that many of the participants showed symptoms of bipolar disorder rather than major depression causing a reevaluation of patients with major depressive disorder to determine if bipolar disorder is really the disorder they need to be treating.
Highly sensitive people may, because of chronic stress, have a predisposition to depression created by malfunctioning stress feedback loops in the body which can affect their biochemistry. For more information about some of the biology that can create treatment resistance in HSPs, see Treatment Resistant Depression - HSP Stress Relief.
Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, is characterised by cycles between manic emotions and behavior and depressed emotions and behavior. The disease usually is evident before age 25.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
Seasonal affective disorder is caused when there is less light. Some people in northern climates and teenagers are particularly affected by gray and cloudy days and the change to the gloomier skies of autumn and winter. Light therapy is considered an effective treatment for this condition.
Postpartum depression is one of the types of depression that occurs in women and sometimes in men after a pregnancy. It is thought to be caused by changing hormone levels and apparently occurs more often in women who already suffer from depression.