The National Institute of Mental Health (NIH) says depression is “a common but serious mood disorder. It causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working.” According to the NIH, in order for someone to be diagnosed with depression, his or her symptoms must last for two continuous weeks or longer. The forms of depression vary slightly, or they can develop as a result of certain types of circumstances, such as:
- Dysthymia, otherwise known as persistent depressive order: This is a depressed mood that lasts for a minimum of two years.
- Perinatal depression, which women experience during pregnancy or after delivery. The depression makes it difficult for new mothers to care for themselves and/or their babies.
- Seasonal affective disorder refers to depression that comes on during the winter months when there is less natural sunlight.
- Psychotic depression is where someone has severe depression, but they also suffer from some degree of psychosis. For example, they will be depressed and experience some form of delusions or hallucinations.
Note: Bipolar disorder is not the same as depression; individuals with bipolar disorder do, however, experience episodes of feeling very down, which would be characterized as depression. But, they also experience “very high” moods, so they go back and forth between feeling very depressed or irritable and euphoria.
Mental Disorders: Depression & Bipolar Disorder
Both depression and bipolar disorder are on the Social Security Administration’s Listing of Impairments under Section 12.04 of the Mental Disorders. Under Section 12.04, depressive disorder is characterized by: a depressed mood, sleep problems, feeling guilty or worthless, suicidal thoughts, low energy, a decreased interest in life, appetite problems, etc.