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Recognizing 4 Common Types of Depression in Seniors

Posted by CaraVita Staff on December 15 2019 | 3 minute read

Recognizing 4 Common Types of Depression in Seniors

There are several types of depression that can occur during different stages of life, and even during different times of the year. The types of depression can vary, and it can be difficult to recognize depression in a loved one - especially an older adult.

CaraVita Home Care knows that it isn’t always easy to recognize the signs of depression in seniors, and the topic is difficult to approach. We would like to provide you with information regarding the types of depression, when they may occur, and some signs that may indicate your loved one is dealing with depression.

Type #1: Major Depressive Disorder (M.D.D.)

Major Depressive Disorder, commonly referred to as “clinical depression,” is the most common type of depression. This form of depression is a mood disorder that causes persistent sadness and a loss of interest. It can interfere with the activities of daily living, such as sleeping, eating, or working. Some symptoms associated with M.D.D. include:

  • Feelings of sadness or hopelessness
  • Irritability or drastic mood swings
  • Loss of interest in hobbies or activities
  • Sleep pattern shifts (too much sleep or insomnia)
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Weight gain/loss

Unfortunately, these symptoms can be caused by other variables, such as side effects of certain medications, making depression in seniors challenging to diagnose. It’s important to remember that depression is not a normal part of aging, and any symptoms or indicators should be taken seriously. If your parent or loved one displays symptoms or signs of depression for two or more weeks, you should consult with a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis. 

Type #2: Persistent Depressive Disorder (P.D.D.)

Also referred to as dysthymia, Persistent Depressive Disorder is a type of depression that occurs on most days in the span of two or more years. This disorder is particularly hard to diagnose as people with P.D.D. may experience brief periods where they do not feel depressed and feel as if their depression is gone. 

While Persistent Depressive Disorder and Major Depressive Disorder are similar, their diagnosis is where you can find the most significant difference. With P.D.D., a person must show at least three symptoms for over two years to be diagnosed, whereas, with M.D.D., a person must demonstrate five or more signs for two weeks.

Type #3: Atypical Depression

Atypical Depression is a type of depression that does not follow the “typical” representation of depression. With most types of depression, the positive effects of good news do not last for an extended period. However, with atypical depression, the light of positive news can last for some time and even appear to end the cycle of depression. The following characteristics are associated with atypical depression:

  • Excessive eating or weight gain
  • Excessive sleeping 
  • Intense sensitivity to rejection or bad news
  • Strongly reactive moods
  • Feeling weighed down, fatigue, or weakness


Type #4: Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.)

Seasonal Affective Disorder, keenly named to make the acronym S.A.D., is a type of depression that can occur as the seasons change. If your parent or loved one experiences low energy, weight gain, or social withdrawal during the winter months, but not the rest of the year, S.A.D. may be the underlying issue. 

All types of depression are serious, and if your loved one is displaying symptoms, you should be open with them about your concerns. Being open and showing that you care may help, but seeking assistance from medical professionals is the best form of treatment available.

CaraVita Home Care hopes that you found this article helpful. For more information regarding healthy aging and the senior population, we encourage you to visit CaraVita Home Care’s blog.


Topics: Health & Nutrition, Senior Care, Wellness & Well-Being