Do you know about Atypical Depression?
Awareness Health

Do you know about Atypical Depression?

According to the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders -5, Atypical Depression has been classified as a subtype of Major Depressive Disorder. Atypical Depression is a specific type of Depression wherein individuals may experience a unique set of symptoms apart from the usual typical symptoms associated with Depression.


The Main symptoms of atypical depression include hypersomnia, rejection sensitivity, intense feelings of guilt, increased appetite or weight gain, heavy feelings in limbs and mood reactivity. Individuals who suffer from and live with Atypical Depression may crave sugary food or food with high carbohydrates which may lead to weight gain. They also sleep for multiple hours and yet still tend to feel tired and may also find it difficult to move around or complete daily tasks. Another symptom seen among those with atypical depression is that they tend to be highly sensitive to rejection or criticism and also may experience intense feelings of guilt and worthlessness, at times without any proper reason.

One important thing to remember while dealing with and distinguishing atypical depression from other kinds of depression is mood reactivity.  Those individuals with atypical depression tend to undergo a mood change on hearing positive and pleasant news. They tend to have a positive change and find their moods improving when something positive happens to them or those around them. This is not the case with other types of depression wherein the mood, mostly is stable and is not positive. Another important thing to remember about Atypical Depression is that the onset occurs at an early age, however it does not end early and tends to last longer than other kinds off depression. Most often it tends to become a chronic condition.

It is common or not?

Like most other illnesses, Atypical Depression has too been found to be two times more likely among those individuals who were born as females. As mentioned earlier it also tends to have an early onset wherein individuals affected may be teens or in their early 20s. It is also more common than one would assume and apparently, 15-30% of people with a depressive disorder tend to be affected by it. Atypical depression is also highly comorbid with anxiety disorders and carries more risk of suicide behavior.

Are There Any Specific Causes?

Although there is no particular cause that can be pinpointed when understanding the onset of and progression of atypical depression, a few factors that play a part include genetics, brain chemistry, life events, childhood trauma, and chronic illness. Studies have shown that people with depression are more likely to develop the condition. Having a biological family member with any kind of mood disorder, including bipolar disorder and persistent depressive disorder may contribute to its development.  However, one must keep in mind that there are other factors as well.

Chemical Imbalances in the brain which is basically the imbalance of any of the neurotransmitters that are related to one’s mood and play a key role in mood regulation for example dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine. The life events of a person including childhood experiences and trauma also play a huge role in the likelihood of one developing Atypical Depression when they grow up.


Treatment for Atypical Depression includes a combination of psychotherapy and medication such as antidepressants. The Antidepressants include Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs)  and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) among others. These antidepressants help in balancing the neurotransmitter levels which in turn helps in the normal functioning and regulation of the individuals’ moods.  Lifestyle changes such as reducing or quitting alcohol consumption and use of recreational drugs. Exercising regularly too, like with most issues of the body and mind, helps.

Everyone knows what Depression is in today’s time, however, what is not that well known is that it can be of various types. Atypical Depression is a type of depression wherein individuals tend to feel positive emotions when something positive happens in their surroundings which shows the fluctuation in moods that is absent in other kinds of depression. Atypical Depression is quite common and tends to last longer than your normal kind of depression.

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