Atypical depression: symptoms, causes and treatments

Atypical depression it is a type of depression that explains the complexity of this group of mental disorders. This is a sign that what we commonly refer to as “being depressed” is a complex psychological phenomenon that can be expressed as a wide variety of classifiable symptoms in different ways.

Below we will look at the symptoms of atypical depression, what characteristics differentiate it from other types of depression and what types of treatments have been shown to be effective in intervening in these cases.

    What is atypical depression?

    Atypical depression is a depressive disorder which, despite its many features of major depression, also expresses other atypical and rare symptoms in this class of psychopathological disorders.

    For example, while atypical depression presents the main symptoms of this group of disorders, such as sadness or anhedonia and abulia, other signs and symptoms also appear, such as overreacting to events. perceived such as negative effects, extreme increase in sleep and the need to sleep, etc.

    Generally, atypical depression it is considered rare, i.e. rare and rarely diagnosed. Most cases of depression are diagnosed with another diagnosis.

      Symptoms of atypical depression

      The symptoms of atypical depression can be very varied, especially given the rarity of the diagnosis. The signs and symptoms most associated with this type of depression are as follows.

      1. Hypersomnia

      The person feels a deep need to sleep, which causes him psychosocial and professional problems, As this interferes with their work. It also produces greater isolation and has a negative impact on the possibility of developing motivating projects.

      In the end, the problems of organizing a schedule, as well as the lack of social life which is a consequence of hypersomnia, make the daily life of the person suffering from atypical depression more and more monotonous, in lack of stimuli.

      2. Hypersensitivity

      Many people with atypical depression believe that any clue means that a negative situation occurs for them. For example, an ambiguous reaction from another person is interpreted as a sign of rejection or mockery, or a relative failure, such as not arriving on time for a bus that has already started, is seen as a sign that the day will be catastrophic.

      however, this reactivity generally also appears in the face of positive events, Although to a lesser degree than that expressed in the face of unpleasant situations. This ability to react relatively happily to positive situations is something that does not occur in most cases of depression, and is one of the hallmarks of atypical depression.

      3. Extreme increase in appetite

      In major depression, it is typical for patients to experience a significant decrease in the feeling of hunger, associated with a general attitude of passivity and lack of initiative.

      In atypical depression, however, overeating is relatively common, Closely associated with psychological states marked by excessive anxiety. As a result, binge eating and frequent visits to the refrigerator may appear, which appear as a form of compensatory behavior, to distract from those anxiety-generating thoughts.

      4. Extreme fatigue

      Many patients with this type of depression experience depression that causes them to stay in bed for a long time on a bed or sofa. This, in turn, it helps them feel more isolated and lonely, Which fuels the vicious cycle of depression. Lack of energy is expressed in all facets of life, from professional to social life, including attention to basic needs in terms of food, hygiene and home care.

      5. Anxiety states

      This is a group of symptoms of anxiety states typical of other mental disorders and which, in the case of depressive disorders, are much less common. For example, the person with atypical depression may feel anxious about being aware of their poor condition, or they may be very concerned about the image they give to others. This feeling of discomfort is in addition to the damage to quality of life produced by symptoms typically associated with depression.

        its causes

        As with most mental disorders, the cause of atypical depression is has to do with multicausal phenomena. This means that biological and genetic, but also cultural elements are involved in its existence, as well as factors associated with the learned dynamics of interaction with the environment and with other people.

        For example, a traumatic event can trigger genetically latent biological processes, and the way this experience is lived will be influenced by the culture that has been internalized and by the learnings and customs. Neither the environment nor genetics alone are responsible for atypical depression.


        Psychotherapeutic intervention is very relevant in the treatment of atypical depression, as it allows patients to train a large number of habits and social skills that will allow them to improve their quality of life (without mostly getting rid of the symptoms).

        Specifically, cognitive-behavioral therapies make it possible to act both in daily behavioral habits and in ideas, beliefs and thought styles, to achieve effects in both movement-related actions and interaction with the environment and in the mind and spirit. is perceived and interpreted what is happening.

        When it comes to treatment with psychotropic drugs, this is also common in medical interventions for atypical depression, especially given the severity of this disorder and how it affects virtually every area of ​​personal life. and work.

        The most commonly used drugs are usually antidepressants, Such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). Both are drugs that can only be started with a prescription and their use must be monitored by trained mental health and psychiatric personnel.

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