Depression is one of the most widespread forms of mental illness in the United States. Atypical depression is quite common among women, but has been reported in men as well. The fact that there is more than one type of depression is often not considered. The truth is atypical depression disorder is a devastating condition that can have a dramatic impact on a person’s life.
What Is Atypical Depression?
The definition of atypical depression is that it is a sub-category or specific condition listed under the heading of major depression. Unlike major depression that continually affects a person, atypical depression is normally found to occur in patterns. It is not always present, but can rear its head whenever the person experiences a hardship or a difficult situation.
Atypical depression can be diagnosed at a very young age and then re-emerge again as the teenager enters adolescence. Depending on events in their lives, teens may have few experiences with atypical or other types of depression as time goes on. Their individual outlook can play a large role in how much the atypical depression affects their lives.
Atypical means uncommon, unusual or abnormal. When used to describe depressive tendencies, atypical can mean anything that does not normally apply to a person who suffers from major depression. While atypical most often denotes a negative aspect of something, in this case, it does not necessarily refer to something that is bad. When talking about depression, using the word atypical means different or unconventional.
Atypical Depression Symptoms
Atypical depression symptoms are similar to those of major depression and other mental disorders that are related to depression. They include, but are not limited to:
- Increased appetite
- Unexpected fluctuation in weight (gaining or losing)
- Mood changes that comes and goes in cycles or according to circumstances
- Overly sensitive emotionally
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Increased fatigue and always feeling tired
- Lethargy, arms and legs feel as if they are weighted down
While many of the symptoms of atypical depression are similar to other types of depression, they often characterize the disorder more by when they occur. For example, women who suffer from this type of depression often find it hard to remain in relationships. They do not handle rejection well and bouts of the condition are often triggered when they are put in a position where they feel as if they are being pushed away or smothered.
Their fear of rejection can lead them to remain in a depressed state for an indefinite period of time. The longer a person remains in a depressed state, the harder it is for them to overcome the situation. In some cases, it can lead to suicidal thoughts and the possible hazard of destructive behavior. Individuals who cut or injure themselves in some fashion.
Symptoms can fluctuate in severity depending on the situation the person finds themselves in. If everything is going smoothly in there lives, few symptoms, if any, may be present. If their lives are in turmoil and they are constantly worrying about things that are happening in their lives, the symptoms can eventually grow to be quite severe.
The degree of a person’s symptoms are dependent not only the amount of certain chemicals within the brain, but also the life circumstances they find themselves in. Each individual is different when it comes to how they cope with the stressors in their lives. If they are able to rationalize life events and put them into perspective, they may be able to overcome the atypical depression and the symptoms that often accompany it.
Circumstance that Affect Atypical Depression
Major depression is often associated with serotonin levels and other chemical imbalances within the brain. Atypical depression is also associated with those issues but is not dependent on them. With atypical forms of depression, a person’s circumstances will also add to the possibility of a depressive episode. Circumstances that are often out of the person’s control will have a direct affect on how depressed a person becomes.
Some individuals are able to control their reactions to life events, while others succumb to the depressive tendencies and begin to embrace harmful patterns. Many persons diagnosed with this type of depression can often control their symptoms depending on the seriousness of the life event that is occurring.
Women who suffer from depression of any kind may experience problems in their relationships. This does not always necessarily mean their love lives. In some cases, their platonic friendships can also suffer, especially if they have reason to believe that a friend or co-worker is being dishonest or deceptive.
Once they believe they have failed within a friendship or loving relationship, their mental state can deteriorate to the point where it is difficult to recover on their own. If they are capable to talk themselves out of the depression, it may not last for very long. Instead, they relapse rather quickly back into a deep depression that can lead to destructive and harmful thoughts.
Atypical Depression Treatment Options
There are many types of treatment for this and other types of depression and mental illness. Natural treatment options that include massage therapy, aromatherapy, yoga and other forms of alternative therapies have proven to be successful in people who were open to trying them. While the individual still had the depression, the symptoms were less severe and easier for the person to control.
Medications have also been used to help reduce and control the symptoms of the disorder. Anti-depressants and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are often the medications of choice prescribed by doctors to help control the symptoms of the disorder. Using certain types of medications can help a person gain control of their emotions and allow them to concentrate more fully on the important things they have going on their lives.
Psychotherapy is also beneficial. It is often used in conjunction with medications normally prescribed for various types of depression. Once the medication has been started, therapists normally wait several weeks until the drugs have taken effect. With the medication in full use, a psychotherapist can then talk to the individual and attempt to uncover their symptoms and what may possibly be triggering them. The person can then work coherently with the physician and find out exactly how and why a person’s disorder is affecting their lives. They can also track their symptoms to determine to what degree the patient is being affected.
Counseling is also an important treatment option. Unlike major depression, atypical depression is a disorder that can commonly be controlled to some extent by allowing the person to discuss their feelings and emotions. While this is not true for every case, it does work with many. If the person truly trusts their counselor, they are more likely to interact with them and allow them to help work out any issues they may be experiencing.
Depression in any form is serious business. It can be triggered by almost any type of event or circumstance. As a sub-category of major depression, atypical forms of depression may lead to more serious mental and emotional issues. It can trigger eating disorders, uncontrollable weight gain as well as other physical conditions. Knowing the signs and symptoms of depression will help to diagnose the treatment and determine an effective treatment plan.