How many types of depression are there? The answer will surprise you

Depression goes beyond simple sadness or a temporary feeling of being “down.” According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression is the leading cause of disability and disability worldwide. This widespread and complex disease, affecting approximately 280 million people, has a significant impact on quality of life, changing thoughts, feelings, behavior and physical health. In addition to feeling reckless, sad, uninterested, or feeling hopeless, depression often manifests itself through physical symptoms such as changes in appetite, trouble sleeping, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating. Although depression is treatable, there is no single cure for this illness. The results of a new study, fortunately, give hope to people who have suffered from depression for years – scientists have identified six different types of the disease, which means the approach to treatment may change in the near future.

How many types of depression are there? The answer will surprise you. Scientists from Stanford have discovered that there are 6 types of depression. Image: Photo.

Scientists from Stanford have discovered that there are 6 types of depression. Image:


  • 1 Depression – what you need to know?
  • 2 Causes of depression
  • 3 What is depression like?
  • 4 Six types of depression
  • 5 How will treatment for depression change?

Depression – what you need to know?

Depression is a serious mental disorder that has a significant impact on a person's life. This condition affects thoughts, feelings, behavior and overall physical health. People with depression often feel depressed, lose interest in activities they previously enjoyed, and experience a variety of physical symptoms.

The main signs of depression include persistent feelings of sadness: people with depression often feel depressed, sad, and empty most of the time. This condition may not have a specific cause and does not go away on its own. Another sign of the disease is a loss of interest in activities that previously brought pleasure, whether hobbies, social interactions or work. Ultimately, a person with depression believes that life has no meaning and that nothing will ever change for the better.

A person with depression often has thoughts about their own insignificancedeath and guilt. This condition requires immediate contact with a psychiatrist.

Depression - what you need to know? Depression can manifest itself differently in different patients. Image: Photo.

Depression can manifest differently in different patients. Image:

In addition to emotional symptoms, depression can lead to significant changes in appetite, leading to either weight loss or weight gain. The same goes for sleep—depressed people may either experience insomnia or, conversely, sleep too much. The disease also leads to constant fatigue and loss of energy. It would seem that it couldn’t get any worse, but depression is also characterized by cognitive symptoms, which include difficulty concentrating, the inability to concentrate and remember information.

More on the topic: What is depression and why does it need to be treated?

More on the topic: What is depression and why does it need to be treated?


Causes of depression

The causes of depression can be varied and include both biological and psychological factors. So, depression can be hereditary – if someone in your family has had depression, your risk of developing it increases. Another cause of the disease is a chemical imbalance in the brain, when the production of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine is disrupted.

Traumatic events, such as the death of a loved one, divorce, job loss or financial difficulties can also trigger depression. Moreover, people with certain personality traits, such as low self-esteem or excessive perfectionism, aremore prone to depression.

Causes of depression. Treatment of depression can be complex and include several approaches. Image: Photo.

Treatment for depression can be complex and involve several approaches. Image:

Diagnosis of depression is usually performed by a psychiatrist. The process includes an assessment of symptoms and their duration, as well as a medical examination. The latter is necessary, since depression can be associated with physical illnesses, such as thyroid disease.

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What is depression like?

Despite the description of the general symptoms of depression, the disease manifests itself and proceeds differently in each person. In other words,not all depression is the sameand scientists were able to prove it. A team of researchers from Stanford University recently presented results of their work, during which they were able to identify up to six different types of depression by combining brain imaging with machine learning.

The results, published in the scientific journal Nature Medicine, identify six subtypes depression, which could revolutionize the treatment of the disease, since each individual type of illness must be treated differently.

What types of depression are there? There is no single type of depression - now scientists have evidence. Image: Photo.

There is no single type of depression – scientists now have evidence. Image:

This is consistent with the fact that for some people with depression, finding the right treatment or medication can be a tedious process – literally trial and error, which can worsen the symptoms of the disease. Even with long-term treatment, many people (up to two thirds of those suffering from this disease) do not make a full recovery. In other words,something is wrong with our understanding of depression.

The goal of our work is to figure out how to succeed the first time. It's very frustrating to live with depression and have no better alternative than conventional treatments, says one of the authors of the study, Deanne Williams.

To identify subtypes of depression, researchers used brain imaging combined with machine learning and as a result we receivedsix varieties of disease or “biotypes” The work used the results of brain scans (using functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)) of more than 800 subjects diagnosed with depressive and anxiety disorders. The average age of the study participants was 30 years.

What types of depression are there? Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) allows you to see the brain of a person suffering from depression. Image: Photo.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) allows you to see the brain of a person suffering from depression. Image:

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All brain MRI studies were conducted both at rest and while performing tasks designed to assess the cognitive and emotional functions of the participants in the experiment. The scientists then turned to machine learning, using AI to identify different patterns of brain activity corresponding to different biotypes of depression.

For the first time, we were able to show that depression can be explained by different disorders in brain functioning. Essentially, it demonstrates a personalized medicine approach to mental health based on objective measures of brain function, Williams explains.

Six Types of Depression

The first of sixbiotypes of depression that researchers discovered is characterized by hyperactivity in cognitive domains and is associated with more anxiety, negative biases, and anhedonia (lack of interest in life experiences) than other subtypes of the disease.

< p>Second biotypecharacterized by higher activity in three brain regions associated with depression and problem solving. The study authors found that these people's depressive symptoms improved with cognitive behavioral therapy, which teaches skills to better cope with everyday problems.

Six types of depression. Depression manifests itself in different ways and affects different areas of the brain. Image: Photo.

Depression manifests itself in different ways and affects different areas of the brain. Image:

Third subtypedepression is clearly characterized by lower levels of activity in the area of ​​the brain responsible for attention. People with this biotype of the disease are much less likely to experience relief from psychotherapy.

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Similarly, the fourth biotypewas associated with less activity in areas of the brain responsible for attention and emotional control. This means, as the authors of the study explain, that such people have difficulty responding to cognitive information and controlling negative emotions.

Researchers also found that the fifth subtype of depression is characterized by high emotional reactivity – that he is much more influenced by emotional stimuli, such as his own emotions or the facial expressions of those around him, than others.

Six types of depression. Depression is a complex and difficult to treat disease. Image: Photo.

Depression is a complex and difficult to treat disease. Image:

The last, sixth biotype of depression turned out to be quite unexpected, since it was practically no different from the MRI of healthy people. This likely indicates that there is an underlying type of depression that has not yet been identified.

We probably haven't studied the full range of brain biology underlying depressive disorder — their work focused on areas known to be associated with depression and anxiety, but there may be other types of dysfunction in the final, sixth biotype that imaging hasn't captured, the study authors note.

How will this change depression treatment?

Now Williams and the team intend to expand the study using imaging to recruit more participants. The researchers also want to test more treatments for all six biotypes, including medications that have not traditionally been used for depression.

Williams' colleague, Dr. Laura Hack, began using the imaging technique in her clinical practice at Stanford Medical University as part of experimental protocol. The team also wants to set easy-to-use standards for the new method so that other mental health practitioners can begin to implement it.

To truly move the field toward precision psychiatry, we need to identify the treatments that are most likely to work for patients and get them to those treatments as quickly as possible, the researchers say.

How will the treatment of depression change? Depression accelerates the aging process of cells in the human body. Image: Photo.

Depression accelerates the aging process of cells in the human body. Image:

Having information about brain function, particularly the validated signatures that we have assessed in our work, will help provide more accurate treatment information. Note that researchers from Columbia University, Yale University School of Medicine, University of California at Los Angeles, University of California at San Francisco, University of Sydney, University of Texas MD Anderson and the University of Illinois at Chicago also contributed to the work.

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Well, while research continues, traditional methods of treating depression are considered a combined approach, which includes both drug treatment (the use of antidepressants to balance the production of chemicals in the brain) and psychotherapy methods. One of the most important factors contributing to recovery is regular physical activity, proper and balanced nutrition, and healthy sleep.

It is important to understand that depression is an extremely complex and serious condition that requires careful approach and treatment. Understanding the symptoms, causes, and treatments can help not only those who suffer from depression, but also their loved ones. The main thing we know today is that depression is treatable, and scientists from all over the world continue to search for the best treatment method. Be healthy!