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The adjective atypical usually describes something that is out of the ordinary. Yet atypical depression may be far more prevalent than its name implies. Many experts feel that atypical depression encompasses mild forms of bipolar disorder and of major depression making it rather more ordinary than not. Atypical depression as a diagnosis highlights the tremendous range of depression experiences. Listed below are some characteristic symptoms of atypical depression along with a few of the treatment options for managing the condition.Common symptoms of atypical depression include:

  • Low mood which may have begun during adolescence or early adulthood and persist over a period of years
  • Cycling episodes of waxing and waning depression
  • Listlessness and low energy
  • A desire to sleep more than normal
  • An increase in appetite especially for complex carbohydrates along with weight gain
  • Heightened sensitivity to negative or perceived negative feedback from others
  • Intensified moodiness
  • Relationship struggles

Since people with atypical depression have felt this way for so long, they may not realize that they are actually depressed. As a result they may be compensating for many symptoms unaware. They may force themselves to stay active, diet to control their weight and work harder to please others and maintain relationships. This last is particularly difficult since the person with atypical depression is so sensitive to the slightest forms of rejection.

The first step in treating atypical depression is to rule out bipolar disorder since that condition also cycles and shares many symptoms. Bipolar disorder is different from atypical depression in significant ways however and treatment for that condition will look different from management of the less severe atypical depression.

Once atypical depression is established, the treatment will look quite similar to that for major depression. Anti-depressant therapy is helpful. A range of medications are available, but the conservative choice and most often effective drugs are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Anti-depressants usually require one month before their effects can be felt and then often require periodic adjustments in order to stay maximally effective.

Therapy is beneficial in dealing with depression, but will be most useful after a month of anti-depressant therapy. When the person’s moodiness is stabilized and their energy is up they are in a better position to calmly examine how their own thinking and poor relationship skills have played a role in their mental health. Therapy can help the person to establish new thinking patterns and better their abilities in relating to others well.

Healthy habits like regular exercise and a well-balanced diet can also make a difference. There is some belief that adding Omega 3 to a health meal plan can boost the benefits. Of course, staying true to your medication and therapy regimen is equally important. Atypical depression is more typical than once thought, but it is highly treatable and with great result.


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