Any type of depression can make you feel sad and keep you from enjoying life. However, atypical depression â also called depression with atypical features â means that your depressed mood can brighten in response to positive events. Other key symptoms include increased appetite, sleeping too much, feeling that your arms or legs are heavy, and feeling rejected.
Despite its name, atypical depression is not uncommon or unusual. It can affect how you feel, think and behave, and it can lead to emotional and physical problems. You may have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities, and sometimes you may feel as if life isn't worth living.
Treatment for atypical depression includes medication, talk therapy (psychotherapy) and lifestyle changes.
Symptoms of depression can vary from person to person. Key signs and symptoms may include:
Other symptoms also may be part of atypical depression, such as:
Some researchers are beginning to think of atypical depression as part of a larger subgroup of reactive depressive disorders â depression caused as a reaction to external events or circumstances.
Atypical depression may occur as a feature of major depression or of mild, long-lasting depression (dysthymia). Symptoms of atypical depression may overlap with other subtypes of depression, such as melancholic or anxious distress depression.
For some people, signs and symptoms of atypical depression can be severe, such as feeling suicidal or not being able to do basic day-to-day activities.
If you feel depressed, make an appointment to see your doctor as soon as you can. Atypical depression may get worse if it isn't treated. If you're reluctant to seek treatment, talk to a friend or loved one, a health care professional, a faith leader, or someone else you trust.
If you think you may hurt yourself or attempt suicide, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.
Also consider these options if you're having suicidal thoughts:
If a loved one or friend is in danger of attempting suicide or has made an attempt:
It's not known exactly what causes atypical depression or why some people have different features of depression. Atypical depression often starts in the teenage years, earlier than other types of depression, and can have a more long-term (chronic) course.
As with other types of depression, a combination of factors may be involved. These include:
These exams and tests can help your doctor rule out other problems that could be causing your symptoms, determine a diagnosis and check for any related complications:
Like other types of depression, atypical depression is a serious illness that can cause major problems. Atypical depression can result in emotional, behavioral and health problems that affect every area of your life.
For example, atypical depression can be associated with:
There's no sure way to prevent depression. However, these strategies may help.
Make sure you understand the risks as well as possible benefits if you pursue alternative or complementary therapy. Don't replace conventional medical treatment or psychotherapy with alternative medicine. When it comes to depression, alternative treatments aren't a substitute for professional care.
Dietary supplements aren't monitored by the Food and Drug Administration the same way medications are. You can't always be certain of what you're getting and whether it's safe. Also, because some herbal and dietary supplements can interfere with prescription medications or cause dangerous interactions, talk with your health care provider before taking any supplements.
Complementary and alternative medicine practitioners believe the mind and body must be in harmony for you to stay healthy. Examples of mind-body techniques that may be helpful for depression include acupuncture, relaxation techniques, exercise and spirituality.
Relying solely on these therapies is generally not enough to treat depression. However, they may be helpful when used in addition to medication and psychotherapy.
Depression generally isn't an illness that you can treat on your own. But in addition to professional treatment, these self-care steps can help:
Talk with your doctor or therapist about improving your coping skills, and try these tips:
Many factors seem to increase the risk of developing or triggering depression, whether it's atypical or not. Risk factors may include:
Your risk of depression may also increase if you have: