What Makes Atypical Depression Different?

Atypical depression (AD) is a common form of depressive disorder, characterized by the ability of the sufferer to experience a marked (albeit, temporary) upswing of mood in response to positive news and events. This disorder has been professionally classified as “atypical depression because clinical manifestations of its professionally recognized symptoms differ greatly from other cataloged forms of depression, such as melancholic depression, which is chiefly characterized by the inability of its sufferers to experience any such improvement in mood, even to overwhelmingly positive events (the birth of a child, the marriage of a sibling, etc.). 


Atypical Depression

Atypical Depression

Atypical depression can consume and harry an individual nearly to the point of physical, as well as psychical, paralysis (catatonia is sometimes manifested in extreme cases). This disorder is often passed down through the genetic code of families, sometimes skipping a generation or two, only to return to inflict its full force on descendants who are consequently mystified as to the source of this soul-sapping malady. AD, because it manifests itself earlier in an individual’s life than most other forms of depressive disorder (normally commencing its dysfunctional onset in the early to mid teenage years), tends to, in the long run, inflict more palpable and irreparable damage and cause more widespread and lasting functional impairment than comparable disorders such as post-partum or seasonal affective disorder.


In addition, patients who struggle with AD are considerably more likely to be victimized by other mental disorders such as avoidant personality disorder, poor self esteem, body dysmorphic disorder, and many related irrational fears and complexes such as agoraphobia and clasutrophobia. Many possess a generally solitary and social phobic personality, sometimes exacerbating itself into miserliness and “hoarding”. 

Complications Of Atypical Depression

However, to complicate the issue, many documented complainants of atypical depression will respond to positive or negative external events with some degree of engagement rather than pure and simple fearful avoidance, as would be the case with others who are victimized helplessly by related disorders. The general emotional and philosophical disposition of an individual saddled with AD may sink to the blackest depths of melancholy, or suddenly rise noticeably upward to a state of (heavily qualified) optimism. Such individuals become, at times, an unwitting barometer of the social atmosphere around them, and seem to be merely absorbing its influences without the ability to filter or edit them. As such, when the tension and excitement of such a situation plays itself out and disperses into mere memory, the sufferer of atypical depression will often times seem to “deflate” back into melancholy. 


Some leading expert authorities in the medical profession have hypothesized that AD may, at its root, be related to thyroid dysregulation. Triiodothyronine, a medication used to treat hypothyrodism, may yield positive results in the struggle against atypical depression. As with former forms of depressive illnesses, atypical depression can be treated and its effects often counteracted, or at least alleviated, by a regimen of proper counseling and medication. Research is ongoing, and clues as to a possible cure remain to be discovered. 

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