Any type of depression can make you feel sad and keep you from enjoying life. However, if you have atypical depression, certain key signs and symptoms tend to occur. These include increased hunger, weight gain, sleeping a lot, feeling that your arms and legs are heavy, and difficulty maintaining relationships.
Atypical depression often starts in the teenage years and is more common in women than in men. Despite the name, atypical depression isn't uncommon or unusual. Similar to other forms of depression, treatment for atypical depression includes medications, psychological counseling (psychotherapy) and lifestyle changes.
Depression of any kind can cause feelings of sadness and a decreased ability to enjoy life. But atypical depression includes these main signs and symptoms:
If you feel depressed, make an appointment to see your doctor as soon as you can. Depression may get worse if it isn't treated. Untreated depression can lead to other mental and physical health problems or problems in other areas of your life. Feelings of depression can also lead to suicide.
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 or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, get help right away. Here are some steps you can take:
If you think you may hurt yourself or attempt suicide, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.
If you have a loved one who is in danger of committing suicide or has made a suicide attempt, make sure someone stays with that person. Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately. Or, if you think you can do so safely, take the person to the nearest hospital emergency room.
It's not known exactly what causes atypical depression. As with other types of depression, a combination of factors may be involved. These include:
These exams and tests can help rule out other problems that could be causing your symptoms, pinpoint a diagnosis and check for any related complications:
To be diagnosed with atypical depression, you must meet the symptom criteria spelled out in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), published by the American Psychiatric Association.
For a diagnosis of atypical depression, you must first meet the general DSM criteria for major depression — such as feeling down most of the day and losing interest or pleasure in activities you once enjoyed. You'll also need to meet other specific criteria for atypical depression.
For a diagnosis of atypical depression you must have this symptom:
In addition, you must have at least two of these symptoms for diagnosis:
Atypical depression has a specific definition as a diagnosable condition. But some doctors and mental health providers use the term more loosely. Ask for a definition if it isn't clear what your doctor or mental health provider means when he or she says "atypical depression."
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. Complications associated with atypical depression may include:
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.
Examples of herbal remedies and supplements that are sometimes used for depression include:
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:
Relying solely on these therapies is generally not enough to treat depression. 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 include:
Family history and issues with family or others may also increase your risk of depression: