Types Of Depression

How to Deal With Depression

Home ] Depressive Illness ] [ Reactive Depression ] Causes of Depression ] Effects of Depression ] Sexual Problems and Depression ] Self-hypnosis - A Natural Remedy For Depression ] Novel Approaches To Curing Depression ]


We all know there are different types of depression. The question is, what are they? Well, the depressive reaction to life events which causes someone to feel hopeless is reactive depression. Ultimately, all reactive depression is a reaction to stress. And the other type of depression, the one based in brain chemistry, is called endogenous or clinical depression. These are the main types of depression.

So what's the connection between stress and depression? When trying to understand this question, we need to keep one particular point in mind: this form of depression is not controlled by inheritance. It is in fact a combination of genetics and life events and experience (i.e. what we learn and what happens to us) that has some influence over whether or not we become depressed.

Reactive depression is a reaction to stressful life events. And all depressions are a miserable experience: telling a depressed person is told to 'snap out of it' is not a good idea. It only adds to the feelings of failure and misery. For, if he could 'snap out of it', he would have done so long ago. And even if a person is subconsciously choosing to be depressed for some ulterior motive, he wouldn't be that way if he knew how to do some constructive about his problem.

What causes depression? Let's deal with the reactive types of depression first.

1. Loss events and separation

Consider a girl who is deeply in love with her boy friend. If he decides to end their relationship, she will naturally be very upset and could react in a variety of ways. She may be unhappy for a while, but continue to live normally; she may be deeply unhappy and find that she obtains less satisfaction from her life and work; or she may become severely depressed. This example represents a whole area of life experiences which can be grouped under the heading 'loss events'.

A loss event in adult life is one which involves the removal of something we value from our lives. Thus, various types of loss events include:

  • the death of a spouse

  • the ending of a relationship

  • the loss of a job, family, friends, and perhaps even valued objects

  • moving home to a new area

  • the family leaving home

and so on. No doubt you can think of many more.

Some experts think we react to this type of event with depression if we were 'sensitized' to it during childhood. In other words, if an emotional or physical loss in childhood causes depression, situations which have some similarity later in life will evoke the same depressive response. To understand this idea more clearly, we need to consider the types of events which might be particularly significant to a child.

One major cause of emotional problems during childhood is the breaking of the bonds between a child and its parents. A child's relationships with its parents are the first and most important interactions which it establishes with anyone else. Indeed, we now know that a strong bond between mother and child is normally established immediately after birth through feeding, touching, smiling, talking and so forth. Should this bond be broken (for example, through separation caused by illness or death) the child may respond to other losses later in life with anxiety and depression.

Of course, children are capable of interpreting even the most insignificant separation or loss events as being of major importance. For example, a child whose father is away for weeks at a time may think that the separation means his father does not love him. Even the disappearance of any much loved object such as a pet or toy can cause a great sense of loss.

Parker, 1978, thinks that that disruption (rather than complete breakage) of the bonds between parents and children can also contribute to depression in adulthood. He has described two broad categories of disruption: underbonding and overbonding. These two types of bonding seem to be responsible for one of the two major types of depression, reactive depression, in later life. 

2 Underbonding and overbonding

Underbonding implies that a child's parents fail to provide adequate love, affection, attention or praise. This can happen if the parents are habitually depressed and withdrawn. Alternatively, they may deliberately ignore, denigrate, reject or criticize the child to a greater or lesser extent. But whatever the cause, a child readily comes to believe what he is told or what he deduces from his parents' lack of interest in him: that he is worthless, insignificant, foolish and incompetent. (That is an extreme case, but the same principles are at work.)

Personality characteristics of people with this- sort of upbringing may include introversion; minimal independence; lack of assertive and aggressive behavior; habitual pessimism about the world, life, the future and relationships. It is said that people like this are over-sensitive to the opinions of others and therefore experience considerable anxiety. They also have a low self-esteem and hold many negative expectations about life. Now, when a person holds many negative expectations about himself and his life, some of them will inevitably be fulfilled. When this happens, the individual thinks his or her pessimism is justified, and so he or she sinks deeper into depression even if the event which provokes this reaction is really quite trivial. (Incidentally, this principle is probably true for specific areas of life as well, which may explain why one sometimes reacts very emotionally to an event which is objectively unimportant. The implication is that somehow one was sensitized to that type of depressive event during childhood.)

Overbonding, in contrast, implies an excessive or unusual involvement of (generally) the mother in her children's lives. A mother may develop an unusually close relationship with a child for various reasons. For example, she may have greatly desired a child but failed to conceive until late in life, or she may herself have been deprived of love during her childhood. In any event, she becomes noticeably overprotective and inhibits the development of normal independence in her child. Children like this may have a normal level of self-esteem, but subconsciously they tend to believe that it is tied to this one relationship, so that separation produces anxiety and depression. On a more general level, Parker suggests that overbonding produces a person who tends to become dependent on other people later in life. And, as we explained earlier, a person who is dependent on someone else in a relationship will probably suffer the reactive types of depression when that relationship ends.

As you might expect there appears to be a clear connection between parental over-protectiveness and normal feelings of sadness and unhappiness. The clear implication of this is that an overprotective parent prevents his or her child from learning how to cope with life's difficulties. Overbonding is complicated by the fact that an 'overbonded child' often has an externalized self-esteem: this means that he or she regards criticism or praise of his actions as criticism or praise of him as a person, an attitude which develops when one's parents make remarks like 'We don't love you when you do that', rather than 'We love you but we don't like you to do that.' To some extent we all experience this problem of externalized self-esteem; it's helpful to recall that criticism of one's actions is not the same as criticism of one as a person.

3. Learned helplessness

Psychologists have suggested that human depression is a form of learned helplessness. In other words: if your actions, either in childhood or adulthood, do not influence the people and the world around you, then you come to believe that you cannot exert any control over what happens to you. Such a belief can produce feelings of depression and despair. Obviously a child who is ignored by his parents is likely to develop these feelings, and even an adult who has difficulty in being assertive may develop this particular problem. In any event, learned helplessness is a feeling of depression and a belief that everything is beyond your control which occurs in stressful circumstances.

More on the causes of depression Advice on sexual problems - premature ejaculation - if you need help with sexual dysfunction, especially in discovering more creative and productive ways to last longer in bed for men. Speaking of which, this Ejaculation by Command exploration and review may be helpful in deciding if you are able to last longer in bed or not. It's an extremely helpful resource with many positive suggestions about how to improve your sexual performance and get greater pleasure during lovemaking.

Home ] Depressive Illness ] [ Reactive Depression ] Causes of Depression ] Effects of Depression ] Sexual Problems and Depression ] Self-hypnosis - A Natural Remedy For Depression ] Novel Approaches To Curing Depression ]