Types of depression

There are many different types of depression.

Clinical depression

Clinical depression means that a doctor has given you a diagnosis of depression.

Depressive episode

This is the formal name that doctors give depression when they make a diagnosis. They may say that you’re going through a ‘mild’, ‘moderate’ or ‘severe’ episode.

Recurrent depressive disorder

If you’ve had at least 2 depressive episodes, your doctor might say that you have a recurrent depressive disorder. They may say that your current ‘episode’ is ‘mild’, ‘moderate’ or ‘severe’.

Reactive depression

If your doctor thinks that your depression was triggered by difficult events in your life, such as divorce or money worries, they may say that it is reactive.


This is when you are experiencing continuous mild depression that lasts for over 2 years. Also sometimes called persistent depressive disorder or chronic depression.


You may be diagnosed with cyclothymia if you experience persistent and unstable moods. You may have periods of depression and periods of elation, but these periods may not be severe enough or long enough to be diagnosed as bipolar disorder.

Manic depression

Manic depression is the name doctors used to use for bipolar disorder. It is not the same illness as depression, but people with bipolar disorder experience periods of depression as well as periods of extreme highs.

Psychotic depression

If you experience a severe episode of depression, you may get hallucinations or delusions. These symptoms are called psychosis. A hallucination means you might hear, see, smell, taste or feel things that aren’t real. A delusion means that you might believe things that don’t match reality.

Prenatal or postnatal depression

Prenatal depression occurs during pregnancy, it may also be called antenatal depression.

Postnatal depression occurs after becoming a parent. It can affect both men and women.

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

If you have SAD, you’ll experience depression during particular seasons, or because of certain types of weather. You might find that your mood or energy levels drop when it gets colder or warmer, or notice changes in your sleeping or eating patterns.

It will affect you at the same time of year every year. It’s most common during the winter.

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