What is Atypical Depression?

Most people are aware that there is a medical ailment called depression, but not many know that there are different types of depression. By identifying criteria and specific symptoms of depression, medical professionals are able to provide better care to treat the specificities of each case. In this article we will be discussing atypical depression.

What is Atypical Depression?

The National Institute of Health recognizes atypical depression as the most common form of depression experienced by outpatient populations, estimating it to affect up to 40% of patients who already suffer from some form of depressive disorder or dysthymia, and occurring four times as often in females as in males. Atypical depression is characterized as a chronic disorder, with most patients indicating its onset during their childhood or adolescent years. Compared to all other subtypes of depression, atypical depression seems to increase an individual’s predisposition for comorbidity. Patients with Atypical depression typically suffer more functional impairment and experience more severe episodes of emotional instability compared to those with another form of non-atypical depression; putting them at an increased risk of suicide, phobias, panic and other anxiety disorders. Studies have also revealed certain types of behaviors are more prevalent among those with atypical depression; according to The National Institute of Health, patients have a tendency to anticipate failure, worry more, have trouble overcoming feelings of humiliation or embarrassment, are more sensitive to criticism, are frustrated easily, are more apt to underachieve and are more vocal about their feelings and experiences.

How is Atypical Depression Diagnosed?

atypical depression treatment Los AngelesDiagnosis of atypical depression requires a patient not meeting the criteria for melancholic or catatonic depression, demonstrating mood reactivity, and experiencing at least two of the following symptoms: significant weight gain or increased appetite, hypersomnia, leaden paralysis and interpersonal rejection sensitivity. According to research published by the Psychiatric Times, mood reactivity occurs when a clinically depressed patient has the capacity to feel at least 50% better when exposed to positive events; examples of such include getting an invitation to a social gathering or being complimented. Patients who experience mood reactivity often times even feel euthymic, and are able to sustain the feeling for extended periods of time with continued exposure to positive circumstances. In order for weight gain to be considered significant, weight gain must total at least five pounds during a depressive episode, and a marked increase in appetite must be apparent. Mayo Clinic indicates a possible link may also exist between atypical depression and several other symptoms, including insomnia, eating disorders, poor body image or a phobia of weight gain and headaches or other aches and pains.

What Causes Atypical Depression?

While many questions remain surrounding the cause of atypical depression, studies have indicated an increased presence of thyroid abnormalities among patients with atypical depression compared to healthy individuals and those with melancholic depression. The Psychiatric Times reports neurological research recently revealed that the brains of patients with atypical depression exhibit distinct differences from both the brains of healthy individuals as well as patients who suffer from melancholic depression, with more significant features among those with early onset atypical depression. The neurobiological profile of patients with atypical depression include increased front, temporal and parietal lobe perfusion and a marked increase of visible abnormalities within the right hemisphere of the brain while performing psychophysiological tasks.

What are Atypical Depression Treatments?

The distinct biological characteristics of atypical depression suggest effective treatment may require a more specialized approach, unique to the illness, as opposed to those often used to treat other types of depression. This theory is supported by the differentiating responses to medication exhibited by those with atypical depression compared to those with melancholic depression. Studies indicate an older class of antidepressants known as monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) are more effective in the treatment of atypical depression than more modern medications such as SSRIs and SNRIs. However, the relative newness associated with many of these pharmacological treatments limits the amount of evidence required for a more conclusive answer. Aside from medication, common atypical depression treatments also include attending weekly cognitive behavioral therapy and psychotherapy sessions. While no cure exists for atypical depression, many patients have experienced relief from symptoms through the utilization of pharmacological treatment in conjunction with regular therapy.

Although, a new FDA-approved depression treatment has been shown to greatly eliminate depression treatments. Deep transcranial magnetic stimulation (Deep TMS) is a new version of the former procedure, TMS therapy, which now targets deeper areas of the brain believed to be associated with the reward system. This therapy requires less than half an hour sessions, allowing patients to resume their day. Westside Neurotherapeutics offers dTMS treatments Los Angeles. For more information, contact them by phone at 310.946.0008 or visit them online at www.westsideneurotherapeutics.com.

Leave a Comment