Atypical Depression

Atypical depression is one category of depression. What’s happening in a person’s life strongly affects atypical depression and its symptoms. These might be major life events, such as graduating, moving, or a breakup—or they could be small positive or negative events. Atypical depression is actually very common among teens: Some three million adolescents have at least one major depressive episode annually.

What is Atypical Depression?

Atypical depression is one of several types of depression. It is a subtype of major depressive disorder. It is different from other types of depression, such as melancholic depression, because it is impacted by circumstances in the person’s environment.

Symptoms of atypical depression include increased appetite or weight gain, sleepiness or excessive sleep, fatigue, extreme sensitivity to rejection, problems concentrating, and recurring thoughts of suicide. People with atypical depression typically no longer enjoy activities that they once found pleasurable, and feel a sense of leaden paralysis. Adolescence is typically the time when people with atypical depression first experience symptoms.

As with other mental health issues, low self-esteem often underlies depression. Other causes include a significant loss, such as death or divorce; relational trauma or trauma caused by physical, sexual, or emotional abuse; and a family history of depression. Without proper treatment, a minor depressive episode can progress into atypical depression.

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