Under the big tent of depression there are many shades of gray. Depression can be mild or severe. It can be short-lived or chronic. Special circumstances, like the birth of a baby or the changing of the seasons, can trigger depressive symptoms.

Understanding the type of depression a person is experiencing helps doctors determine treatment. And for people who are diagnosed with depression, having information about their specific disorder can be helpful. “Folks seem comforted in knowing what’s going on for them,” says Sarah Noble, DO, a psychiatrist with the Einstein Healthcare Network in Philadelphia. “At least they have an answer for why they’re experiencing what they’re experiencing.”

Here’s what you should know about the different types of depression. If you suspect you or a loved one has one of these, get evaluated by a mental health professional. They can help you figure out a diagnosis–and the best course of treatment.

Major depressive disorder

In a given year, more than 16 million Americans (a majority of them women) experience this very common type of depression, also known as major depression or clinical depression. Under diagnostic criteria published by the American Psychiatric Association, people must have at least five symptoms persisting for two weeks or longer to be diagnosed with major depressive disorder. Those symptoms can include feelings of sadness, emptiness, worthlessness, hopelessness, and guilt; loss of energy, appetite, or interest in enjoyable activities; changes in sleep habits; and thoughts of death and suicide. Most cases are highly treatable.

Read more: https://www.health.com/depression/types-of-depression

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