What Are The Four Types of Depression?

An estimated 45% of Australians are likely to experience some mental health problems in their lifetime. Depression affects around 1 in 16 people personally, but almost everyone has some experience with it.

Whether you’ve felt it yourself or a loved one has been affected, most of us know depression is a serious and varied mental health issue.

To help simplify things, John Cottone, a mental health expert from Psychology Today classified 4 types of depression based on his work in the field.

1.    Situational depression

We all feel hurt, sad or confused when things aren’t going right. You might be experiencing these feelings at the moment in response to the coronavirus pandemic. It’s completely normal to be upset by negative events like pandemics, break-ups or unemployment.

This is what Cottone calls situational depression. Not only is it normal, it shows you are a human with feelings (so, good news?). Situational depression is so common, Cottone says, that everyone is likely to have experienced it. However this doesn’t make us experts on the subject – nor does it mean what you’re feeling is invalid.

2.    Biological depression

Biological depression starts with the feel-good neurotransmitters in our brain (like serotonin and norepinephrine) or hormones (estrogen and progesterone) being out of balance.

This can make it harder to achieve goals or just go about your day, which in turn can bring on negative thoughts and low self-esteem. Medication is normally used to correct the imbalance.

But medicine alone can only do so much. It’s up to the individual to use their new-found energy in positive ways, and start taking positive mental health action.

3.    Psychological depression

One of the more common types of depression among young people, psychological depression is hard to shake without professional help. It’s brought on by negative self-talk, unrealistic expectations, or losing touch with reality, says Cottone.

And really, how many of us haven’t felt like that sometimes? We’re constantly bombarded with news, images and social media messages that can make us feel unrealistic pressure to meet impossible standards.

4.    Existential depression

Existential depression is a harder one to pin down. If you’ve ever worked really hard to get your life to a place you imagined would bring you happiness, only to be disappointed when you get there, then you know the feeling.

Existential depression, says Cottone, is tricky to treat with medication because it’s normally characterised by a search for meaning. Who am I? What’s the point? What does it all mean? Certainly one for a mental health professional to help you with.

If you or someone you know is experiencing mental health issues including depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, or you are worried about a loved one, here are some places you can find help:

If you’re interested in Mental Health and how it can affect people, and you’d like to make a difference to someone, you should consider studying our Diploma of Mental Health or our Certificate IV in Mental Health.

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