DepressionDepression Types

Let's Talk About the Types of Depression

People often talk about depression like it's a single diagnosis, but did you know there are all kinds of types? Learning what makes them different can help you get the best diagnosis and treatment, so you can feel better faster.

    Our Pro PanelDepression Types

    We asked some of the nation's top depression experts to bring you the most up-to-date information possible.

    Charles B. Nemeroff, M.D., Ph.D.

    Charles B. Nemeroff, M.D., Ph.D.Chief Medical Officer of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, Professor and Chair of Psychiatry at Mulva Clinic for the Neurosciences

    Dell Medical School, The University of Texas
    Austin, TX
    Jennifer L. Payne, M.D.

    Jennifer L. Payne, M.D.Director of the Women's Mood Disorders Center and Associate Professor of Psychiatry

    Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
    Baltimore, MD
    Carol A. Bernstein, M.D.

    Carol A. Bernstein, M.D.Psychiatrist, Vice Chair for Faculty Development and Well-Being in the Departments of Psychiatry and Obstetrics and Gynecology

    Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine
    The Bronx, NY

    Frequently Asked QuestionsDepression Types

    What is manic depression?

    Manic depression is a now-outdated name for bipolar disorder, a mental disorder characterized by wide mood swings that go from vertiginous heights (a.k.a. mania or hypomania, a milder form) to deep lows (a.k.a. depression). During a manic episode, you’re teeming with energy, verging on snappy and irritable. You might find yourself making grandiose plans, not sleeping much, and acting recklessly, i.e. spending too much cash or sleeping with your ex when you said you were going no-contact. In severe cases, you may experience psychotic symptoms like delusions and hallucinations. During a depressive episode, your mood freefalls and you get no pleasure out of your usual happy places. You feel guilty, worthless, and may even think about self-harm or suicide. In the case of suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

    How can you support someone with depression?

    First, congratulate yourself for stepping up to the plate. It’s easy to ghost a friend when they stop being fun, especially if they start lashing out. If you’ve noticed that they haven’t seemed like themselves lately, say that, and ask how they’re doing. Then listen. Don’t try to fix their issue. Just listen to their feelings. Don’t be afraid to ask them (not in an accusatory way) if they’ve thought about hurting themselves. Unless you yourself are a psychotherapist, the next step is getting them some professional help. Luckily, a little moral support goes a long way here. Remember, in a depressed state, even basic tasks can seem Herculean. Instead of saying, “You should really talk to a therapist,” which can come off sounding judgy and a little bit bossy, why not help them make an appointment? You don’t have to go full-on caretaker—just ask what their insurance provider and plan is, Google local therapists, and call reception to find out if the doc takes new patients and your friend’s insurance plan. You can present them with a list of available options and offer to schedule their first appointment and even drive them there.

    How many people have depression?

    Depression is so common that it’s easy to forget just how devastating this psychiatric illness can be when left untreated. Across the globe, depression affects more than 264 million people of all ages. Here in the U.S., 17.7 million people (that’s 7.2%) experience Major Depressive Disorder, the most common type, each year.

    Can you get disability for depression?

    Yes. In fact, clinical depression is one of the world’s leading causes of disability, according to the World Health Organization. In the U.S., around 6% of people receiving Social Security disability benefits are unable to work due to a mood disorder like depression. Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (SSDI) & Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are programs set up to assist people who are unable to work with monthly income and health insurance. Claims are usually processed and investigated through your local Social Security office.

    Meirav Devash

    Meirav Devash


    Meirav Devash is a writer, editor, and beauty, health, and wellness expert, reporting on topics from mental health to goth fitness and cannabis law.