Are There Different Levels of Depression?

Are There Different Levels of Depression?

It’s a very interesting and intriguing question. Depression is such a hard thing to define by itself because there really are different types and varying degrees of how bad and how long depression can last.

Depression is one part of the equation that is Bipolar One disorder. It can be hard to define the different levels of depression within my own mental illness. The important question posed by a fellow blogger for this post was this. Is there was a difference between Bipolar depression and a diagnosis of severe depression? Basically are there varying levels of depression. It’s an interesting concept to consider. If someone has severe depression and then has a single mania episode it can change their diagnosis.

For my own work here on The Bipolar Writer, and in my memoir, I write from experience. I thought it was the perfect time to define the varying levels of depression associated with the Bipolar disorder. At the same time, it would be good to look at different depression diagnosis and the levels that each come with, at least the ones I have had in my own life. Depression can be so different for each person in the mental illness community so what you read hear is tailored the experience of one, The Bipolar Writer.

*DISCLAIMER* I am not a mental health expert. I talk from the position of experience only.

What are the Different Types of Depression?

It might be surprising that there are in fact many types of depression diagnosed by mental health professionals. Here is what I have found online. I can’t define what I have not lived through, but I will define the differences in what I do know. My blog posts always come from the position of experience. I will list first the most common according to my online research.

  • Major Depressive Disorder
  • Persistent Depressive Disorder
  • Bipolar Depression
  • Postpartum Depression
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder
  • Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
  • Atypical Depression

Is There is Difference?

The short answer is most definitely YES, there are differences between the types of depression. I can only explain the differences from my own experience. I would love for people within the blogger community that suffer from any of these (or those not listed) to help define the types of depression which I have not experienced.

My diagnosis has changed over the years. The changes came from more information given by me, at different times in my life. In my very early twenties, my diagnosis was Major Depressive Disorder.This was around 2006 to October 2007. From what I remember this means your depressed most of the time during a week. This diagnosis is usually given when the depression lasts longer than two weeks.

The subset of MDD is Persistent Depressive Disorder. This usually comes when a diagnosis of depression is longer than two years. It was never my diagnosis, though I have had “depression cycles” that have lasted more than two years. By then I was Bipolar. My depression “levels” when I was diagnosed with MDD were manageable with medication. They never hit the extreme levels that Bipolar Depression does (at least in my experience) until they finally did. It eventually became a diagnosis of Bipolar One.

Bipolar Depression is always at the “extreme” levels. The highs and lows are always a swinging pendulum of extreme depression and mania. In my personal experience, I became “Bipolar” because of my crazy mood swings into depression was very extreme. I was constantly suicidal and always on edge. I started to self-harm, but it was the fact that I had manic episodes that changed my diagnosis.

*I wanted to make a small note that after my first suicide attempt, and because I was experiencing psychosis in the ER, my original diagnosis for about a week was the schizoaffective disorder.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is another type of depression that I have experienced. In fact, my official diagnosis as of today is Bipolar One Disorder with psychosis and a seasonal element. For me, my SAD is specific to the months of November to about March. This year has been the first year that it ended in January for me, which is through perseverance and a lot of writing. Some people only experience SAD because of a specific time of year. It’s an interesting thing to say during this months my depression gets bad considering some of my depression cycles have lasted for years.


But, I can see major shifts in my depression during my SAD months. That is the difference in my Bipolar Depression and my SAD. These months are always the worst for me. Even with the extreme lows, I feel with my Bipolar Depression it can get more extreme for me during my “worst months.” I can tell the difference because of my experiences.

I have explained the differences in the types of depression that I have experienced over the years. The rest of the list isn’t my area of expertise. Each type of depression has their elements in why medical experts separate the types from one another.

For those that follow my blog and have experience in the other types of depression. It would be nice to explore them further through your own experiences.

My Final Thoughts on Differing Levels of Depression

This blog post started out with the question from a fellow blogger. Is there was a difference between Bipolar depression and a diagnosis of severe depression? There are differences between the types of depression and their levels. It is impossible in my mind to say that one type has a more serious level. Depression is bad on any level. The differences seem to be in the extremeness and the length.

With that said, all depression can be treatable. I always like to leave a post such as this one piece of what I think is good advice, always seek help. Depression can be a dangerous thing. I have talked so many times about my experiences of depression leading to suicide. It happened three times in my life. It is important because depression can get worse over time if left untreated. But, with the right help, you can fight it. I have in my own life when I thought it an impossible task.

As always. Always Keep Fighting.


James Edgar Skye

Photo Credit:
unsplash-logoTom Pumford

unsplash-logoAli Inay

unsplash-logoPete Pedroza

30 thoughts on “Are There Different Levels of Depression?

  1. From my understanding mdd is often a misdiagnosis of bipolar as well. I say this from personal experience as well as from researching myself. I also suffer from pmdd but that too has been included as a symptom of my bipolar. The level at which one experiences depression does in fact determine the diagnosis, the worst receiving the diagnosis bipolar. Thiswas what I was informed of when questioning how I were misdiagnosed. Up until this year I hadn’t showed any symptoms of SAD but I have definitely had more cycling, although medicated, this year than ever before. I hope this helps a little to clarify. I suppose my diagnosis of bipolar was due to the extremes of which I suffer all of these I listed. ( I also hope that doesn’t confuse anyone)

    Liked by 3 people

    • I think SAD is one the hardest to get through because you know it’s going to get bad and it’s like you have no control. It is like clock work for me. End of October I feel it and it’s in full force by November. Thank you for your kind words.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I would agree. SAD is just not preventable. Or I haven’t figure out how to prevent it yet! I do find that I am trying to be more AWARE that it is SAD and not me, just being moody helps. I am considering adding an additional ‘helper’ anti-depressant next winter. This winter has been so very bad. VERY cold in Minneapolis. -38 windchills. Getting outdoors is almost impossible! SAD symptoms almost unbearable for weeks at a time. YUK!


  2. Like you, my bipolar 1 diagnosis means I’m generally extreme, my depressions tend to jump straight in at the suicidal deep end. I think there may be a seasonal element too – I rapid cycle though so it can be hard to tell- I’m nearly always Manic at Easter and depressed at Christmas and as I’m in Australia Christmas is in Summer and Easter is heading into winter which feels like the opposite to the norm – but that Easter mania tends to turn into suicidal depression or a mixed episode around April/May every year…
    Hmm.. its interesting, need to do a poll.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I was diagnosed with persistent depressive disorder, it was called dysthymia back then. I am prone to major depression episodes in between what I call my baseline sadness. I’ve learned that it’s common for PDD to go along with MDD and anxiety. Medication helps me not fall back on MDD and helps with suicidal thoughts but I’m learning now that if I ever want to get better, therapy is a must… mainly working on the way I think.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) was first recommended to me when I reached what my psychiatrist called treatment-resistant depression. In other words, we tried all sorts of combinations of meds, but nothing worked. The cocktail I’m currently on usually works, but I have a seasonal aspect, which is when I usually need ECT. I was hoping to get through winter without it this year, but last week my doctor recommended it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve been depressed on and off since middle school, although I wasn’t diagnosed until an adult. It wasn’t until I got what I call ‘scary depressed’ that I finally accepted that I needed medication for the rest of my life. I don’t ever want to go down that rabbit hole again.

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  6. Pingback: My Weekly Wrap-up of the Bipolar Writer Blog – The Bipolar Writer

  7. I was initially diagnosed with major depressive disorder but when they attempted to treat me with anti depressants I went manic. That’s how I got my diagnosis of bipolar. I never thought about tracking my depression by keeping a written record of it. That’s a really good idea. Thank you for this article.

    Liked by 2 people

      • I’m constantly just trying to get rid of it. At least until recently. That does make sense. I’m going to try it so that I can be more aware of how it’s operating in my life.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. The one thing I like about your posts is the fact that they are first hand! Many a times the victims find it hard to openly talk about their feelings, and hence, suffer in silence. Thanks for voicing your personal feelings and experiences through writing.

    Just a thing or two about postpartum depression: I saw how it affected the emotional connection between my sister and her newborn daughter. For weeks, she experienced maternal blues & hot flushes; she could shed tears over a very minor issue and also, feel very anxious and agitated at the sound of her crying daughter. There were changes in her sleep patterns(she slept less at night).

    She barely held her own daughter or breastfed it. The baby rather spent most of the time in her crib, and was bottle fed. I know there are other signs and symptoms other than these, may be someone else could share with us.

    Liked by 1 person

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