Major Depression is manifested by a combination of symptoms that interfere with the ability to work, eat, sleep, and enjoy normally enjoyable activities. These disabling episodes can occur once, twice, or several times in a lifetime. These are the symptoms that doctors look for when examining their patients for major depression:
Dysthymia is a less severe, but involves long term chronic symptoms that do not disable, but keep one from functioning at "full steam."
Some people with dysthymia also experience major depressive episodes. Symptoms of dysthymia are much like those of major depression, but to a lesser degree. When people with dysthymia suffer episodes of major depression, their symptoms become dramatically more severe for a while, then turn to their usual reduced level. These people are said to have double depression, that is, dysthymia plus major depression.
Bipolar Disorder, also called Manic-Depression, involves depression, and elation or mania. During the depressed cycle, individuals experience many of the major depression symptoms. Sometimes the mood swings are rapid, making a person feel really high and then really low within a matter of days, but most often they are gradual. Often it occurs in the late teens or early 20's. During manic phase, some or all of these symptoms may appear:
Further, individuals, when manic, tend to overlook the embarrassing, sometimes harmful, consequence of their behavior. Mania often affects thinking, judgment, and social behavior, resulting in unwise business decisions that can cause horrendous debt. In extreme cases, individuals may experience thought disorder, jumping from one idea to another with no apparent connection. This can sometimes lead to the individual experiencing delusions and hallucinations.