the effects of child abuse

Do I Have Depression?

Wondering if you have Depression? Take our self-test to find out.

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    These days, the stigma surrounding clinical depression is finally starting to fade. Now that it is more socially acceptable than ever before to talk about the symptoms of depression, you may find yourself wondering about the illness. 

    You may ask yourself: am I depressed? How do I know the difference between garden variety unhappiness and clinical depression? 

    These answers are not always easy to find. There is a lot of misinformation out there about depression. 

    Plus, the stigma around depression still exists in many people’s minds. You may have heard conflicting things about this illness from your family members, online sources, and even doctors. 

    Keep reading, and we’ll tell you all about the types of depression and how to treat them. We’ll also provide you with some depression test questions that can help you figure out if you should talk to a doctor about your symptoms.

    Take Our Depression Self-Test

    Over the past two weeks, how often have you experienced the following symptoms?

    Little interest or pleasure in doing things

    This test is not a diagnostic tool, nor is it intended to replace a proper diagnosis. Use it only for informational purposes. Mental health conditions should only be diagnosed by a licensed mental health professional or doctor. Regardless of your results from our assessment, you should speak to a doctor about your mental health.

    What Is Depression?

    Scientists are still researching the neurological mechanisms of depressive disorders. However, it is generally agreed upon that depression is linked to two main neurotransmitters: serotonin and norepinephrine.

    Depression occurs when your brain is no longer able to produce enough of one of both of those chemicals. This is why you might sometimes hear depression referred to as a “chemical imbalance.”

    This chemical imbalance can cause a lowered, depressed mood along with all kinds of other symptoms. These symptoms include, but are not limited to: 

    Depression can last for just a few weeks or it can be a chronic, recurring condition. If you experience any of these symptoms, you may be struggling with depression. 

    However, it is also important to know the difference between clinical depression and a temporarily lowered mood.

    Everyone feels depressed sometimes. However, if your symptoms appear for no reason or are more severe than is reasonable, you may be dealing with clinical depression and not just a bad mood. 

    What Are the Different Types of Depression?

    There are nine types of depressive disorders that the DSM-V currently recognizes. Let’s break down each type.

    Major Depressive Disorder

    Major Depressive Disorder, also sometimes called Major Depression, is a chronic recurring disorder. MDD is characterized by recurrent depressive episodes that last at least two weeks. 

    It is normal for a depressive episode in MDD to last as long as several months, and sometimes it can last years. 

    MDD is more common in adults than children and carries with it a high risk of suicide. Living with MDD can be exhausting and cause chronic hopelessness.

    Persistent Depression or Dysthymia

    Persistent Depression, previously known as Dysthymia, is another chronic recurrent depressive disorder. PD is characterized by recurrent depressive episodes, but they are not as severe as those in MDD. 

    PDD carries less suicide risk than more severe forms of depression, but it can still be life-threatening.

    Seasonal Affective Disorder

    Seasonal Affective Disorder is slightly different from all other forms of depression. SAD is specifically triggered by changes to light intake that occur during the winter months. 

    When you have SAD, lack of sunlight can cause you to become depressed. 

    SAD is the only form of depression that can be treated using light therapy. People who struggle with this disorder can purchase special lamps that they can look into to lift their mood.

    Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder

    Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder is a type of depression that occurs specifically in premenstrual women. PMDD will only affect you for a few days out of the month, but it can still be very difficult to cope with. 

    Women who struggle with PMDD often cannot function normally for a few days or a week out of every month. 

    PMDD can be treated by taking an antidepressant every day, or a mood stabilizer on an as-needed basis. In order to treat PMDD, it is important to get a mood-stabilizing medication in your system before the depression’s onset.

    Postpartum Depression

    Postpartum Depression, sometimes called Perinatal Depression, is a depressive disorder that affects new mothers. Postpartum Depression can last for months or even years after childbirth. 

    In cases of PPD, the depressed mother’s thoughts often center around their child or their own ability to raise that child. 

    A mother with PPD may feel overwhelmed by guilt surrounding the feeling that she will be a terrible mother. 

    Mothers with PPD may, on occasion, attempt violent acts against their children. If you see a new mother who seems to be angered or upset by the presence of her child, know that she may be struggling with PPD.

    Manic Depression or Bipolar Disorder

    Bipolar Disorder is no longer considered a subtype of depression; rather, it is its own category of mental illness. However, depression is a key component of Bipolar Disorder, and they can share many symptoms. 

    Bipolar Disorder consists of alternating episodes of mania and depression. The depression that occurs in bipolar disorder can be just as severe as any other type of depression. 

    Depressive episodes in Bipolar Disorder last at least two weeks but can be several months long. 

    These episodes are offset by periods of mania, which is essentially the opposite of depression. It is an elevated, uninhibited mood that can result in dangerous behavior. 

    Depression With Psychosis

    Sometimes, people can hallucinate or experience paranoid delusions when they are depressed. This can happen just once, or it can happen repeatedly. 

    Psychosis is a more common mental health problem than you might think. Sometimes people think that the only people who hallucinate are those with schizophrenia or similar disorders. 

    However, this is not the case. Anyone can hallucinate when they are under extreme stress. Depression with psychosis can be treated with antipsychotic medication.

    Adjustment Disorder

    Adjustment Disorder is a temporary form of depression that doesn’t last long enough to be diagnosed as Persistent Depression. Adjustment Disorder typically lasts for only a few weeks and does not return recurrently. 

    Adjustment Disorder typically occurs as a reaction to an unexpected life event. People may experience Adjustment Disorder during a move, career change, or unexpected loss. 

    Bereavement, which is the depression experienced as a result of grief, used to be its own disorder. However, Bereavement is now considered one subtype of adjustment disorder. 

    Adjustment Disorder sometimes needs to be treated with antidepressants, but it often does not. Therapy is a great way deal with Adjustment Disorder.

    Atypical Depression

    Atypical depression is a bit of a catch-all category. Atypical depression is simply any type of depression with unusual symptoms that don’t fit into any of these categories. 

    Atypical depression will be diagnosed when it is clear that someone has depression, but they cannot neatly fit into any other category of the disorder. 

    Despite its name, Atypical depression can feel very much like other types and is not necessarily more severe than other types of depression. 

    What Causes Depression?

    There are a few theories about what exactly causes depression. The best answer is that all of these theories are somewhat correct. Many factors work together to produce depressive disorders in the brain. 

    Let’s break them down.

    The diathesis-stress model is a scientific tool used for understanding depression. The diathesis-stress model demonstrates the way that genetic predisposition and environmental factors work together on the brain.

    If someone is genetically predisposed to depression, they are more likely to develop the illness. However, this doesn’t mean that they necessarily will. 

    Environmental stressors also play a role in developing depressive disorders. 

    The diathesis-stress model tells us this: if two people experience the exact same stressors in life, they may not both develop depression.

    The one who is genetically predisposed to depression probably will, while the one who has no genetic predisposition probably will not.

    Genetic factors mean whether or not mood disorders run in your family. If one of your parents has depression, you are more likely to develop the disorder too. 

    This can also be true of your grandparents or other family members, and it can be true of other disorders. 

    If there is a significant history of mental illness in your family, you are more likely to develop depression even if that isn’t what your family primarily struggles with.

    Environmental factors mostly refer to the conditions in which you live. For instance, if you grew up in an abusive home, you are more likely to develop depression than someone who did not. 

    If you are living in poverty, you are also more likely to develop depression. Any ongoing condition of your life, that makes it more difficult than the average person’s life, will make you slightly more prone to developing depression. 

    Other environmental factors that can make you susceptible to depression include: living in isolation, working a stressful job, disconnections within your family, ongoing relationship problems, and housing insecurity.

    common in people who already have a genetic predisposition towards OCD.

    Of course, unexpected problems in life can always lead you to depression. If you live through a natural disaster, for example, you are likely to become depressed for a while. 

    If you unexpectedly lose your job, you are also more susceptible. 

    Unexpected life events most often result in Adjustment Disorder, depending on the severity of those events. If the depression from those events continues for a long time, it may become Persistent Depression or MDD.

    One of the other biggest risk factors for depression is substance abuse; especially the abuse of central nervous system depressants, or “downers.” 

    If you abuse alcohol, you are likely to become depressed as a result of the effects alcohol has on your nervous system.

    You are also likely to become depressed because of the effects that substance abuse can have on your life. Substance abuse can cause you to have fallings out with the people you care about, lose financial security, and more.

    Common Myths About Depression

    As we mentioned earlier, there is a lot of stigma about depression still floating around in our culture. Let’s break down and correct some of the common misconceptions about this disorder. 

    "It's Just Laziness"

    A lot of depressed people become lethargic and have trouble motivating themselves to do important tasks. This does not, in any way, mean that they are just lazy and not “really” depressed. 

    Many older people were raised to believe that depression was just something that young people made up in order to get out of getting their work done. 

    Now that we have more science than ever at our disposal, we know that this is not the case. When you look at a brain scan from someone with depression, you can see that it is abnormal. 

    Depression may cause something that seems like laziness, but it certainly isn’t caused by laziness. 

    "It's All in Your Head"

    Another belief that older people sometimes have about depression is that it is made up in the heads of those who have it. In fact, depression exists in parts of the body completely unrelated to the brain. 

    Depression can cause joint aches, muscle weakness, fatigue, digestion problems, and weakened immune systems. 

    There are many physical manifestations of depression that make it obvious that it is not just a physical problem. 

    However, unfortunately, harmful stigma often makes it seem like it is just a mental block that could be easily avoided. In order to treat depression, we must recognize it as a physical health problem.

    "It Only Happens to Women"

    Men are sometimes led to believe that it is not acceptable for them to show weakness or sadness. This is an outdated and harmful belief, but many men hold it strongly nonetheless. 

    In recent years, there have been some social justice movements focused on the fact that men need the space to feel “weak” emotions; sadness, hopelessness, insecurity, and other aspects of depression. 

    Really, none of these feelings are a sign of weakness, and they happen to everyone regardless of gender. 

    In fact, men are more likely to die by suicide in the United States than women are.

    "It Only Happens to Adults"

    If you felt depressed as a teenager, there’s a pretty good chance that an adult once said to you, “you’re too young to be tired of life!” Many adults live with the assumption that depression is earned, and that children have not earned it.

    However, depression can affect any person of any age. In fact, while you are going through puberty, you are extra susceptible to depression because of hormone imbalances. 

    Teenagers who experience depression symptoms should be taken just as seriously as adults who do. They need to be given the therapy and medication that they need in order to make sure they can deal with those feelings. 

    How to Treat Depression

    There are many effective ways to treat depression. Different methods work differently for everyone, and sometimes you need to experiment before you choose the right one. 


    Medication for depression includes SSRIs, SNRIs, Tricyclics, mood stabilizers, and more. These medications all work slightly differently, but they can all give you the help you need to raise the baseline of your mood. 

    Not everyone necessarily needs to take medication for their depression, but some people can really improve when they take it. It is always worthwhile to at least give medication a try.

    Talk Therapy or Psychotherapy

    Talking to a therapist is a great way to deal with the difficult feelings that depression can cause. Your therapist can teach you helpful coping mechanisms that will help you get through the worst times. 

    While medication can be great, it often isn’t enough. Talking about your feelings is one of the best ways to keep them from harming you.

    Sometimes, group therapy can also help depressed people. You might benefit from talking with other people who experience depression and hearing their fresh perspectives.

    Lifestyle Changes

    Sometimes, your lifestyle makes your depression worse. If you are prone to depressive moods, for example, you should consider trying to stop drinking for a while. 

    Even if you don’t have a drinking problem, living healthier, in general, can help you lift the floor of your mood. 

    If you have a very stressful job and can afford to find a new one or take some time off, this can also help alleviate your depression. When you start to feel down, figure out what you can change in your life.

    Residential Treatment

    If your depression is severe enough, you may need inpatient treatment. If you are considering suicide, self-harm, or doing harm to others, you should be seen in an inpatient treatment center. 

    You should also be hospitalized if you are catatonic or otherwise unable to care for yourself. 

    Inpatient treatment programs can help you get better in a safe environment where some of your basic needs are taken care of. 

    In a psychiatric facility, you also benefit from having mental health professionals available at all hours to take care of you.

    Now you know more about how to answer the question: am I depressed? Now that you have these helpful resources, take our depression test to find out more about your moods.

    If you believe that you or one of your loved ones is suffering from depression, get professional help.

    It is never a bad time to work on your mood and get the help you need. With the right depression treatment, you can enrich your life and reach new heights you never thought possible.

    Clinically Reviewed By:

    Picture of Jamie Mantell, PsyD, LMFT

    Jamie Mantell, PsyD, LMFT

    Jamie Mantel is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, with a Psy.D. in psychology. Jamie has worked for non-profits for over 20 years working with agencies, as well as her private practice in Huntington Beach, California.