If depression can be mild or severe what is the difference?

  • Mild or moderate depression

If a person has been feeling flat, down, distressed or pessimistic for more than two weeks they may be experiencing a mild or moderate depression. This can impact their daily activities and relationships.

  • Severe depression/Major depression/Clinical depression

Severe depression, sometimes called a major depressive episode or clinical depression can lasts for months or years and has a devastating impact on a person’s physical, emotional and mental wellbeing and interferes significantly with daily life and relationships.  There are other symptoms that may be indicative of severe depression. These include:

  • Drug and alcohol abuse
  • Significant weight loss or gain
  • Recurrent intrusive thoughts of death or suicide
  • Relentless feelings of worthlessness
  • Daily insomnia or excessive sleeping
  • Irritability
  • Loss of interest in activities that used to be enjoyable

There are other types of depressive disorders with similar symptoms and some differences.

  • Psychotic Depression   

Sometimes people with a depressive disorder can lose touch with reality and experience psychosis. This is called a psychotic depression. Other symptoms include hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t there) or delusions (false beliefs that aren’t shared by others) and paranoia, (feeling as though everyone is against them or that they are the cause of illness or bad events occurring around them.)

  • Antenatal and postnatal depression

Women are at an increased risk of depression during pregnancy and in the year following childbirth. The causes of depression at this time can be complex and are often the result of a combination of factors. In the days immediately following birth, many women experience the ‘baby blues’ which is a common condition related to hormonal changes and affects up to 80% of women. The ‘baby blues’, or general stress adjusting to pregnancy and/or a new baby, are common experiences, but are different from depression. Depression is longer lasting and can affect not only the mother, but her relationship with her baby, the child’s development, the mother’s relationship with her partner and with other members of the family.

Almost 10% of women will experience depression during pregnancy. This increases to 16% in the first three months after having a baby.

  • Dysthymic disorder

The symptoms of dysthymia are similar to those of major depression but are less severe. However, in the case of dysthymia, symptoms last longer. A person has to have this milder depression for more than two years to be diagnosed with dysthymia.

Depression can be treated! If you think you or someone you know or care for has a depressive disorder seek assistance through your GP who will be able to point you in the right direction!

The earlier you seek support, the better.