Medically reviewed by Jill Johnson, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 8/8/2022
Chances are, you’ve heard of depression — it’s a pretty common mental health condition. In fact, about 10 percent of American adults will have a depressive illness at some point in their lives.
Within depressive disorders, there are different forms of depression. These are thought to be on a scale and commonly referred to as mild depression, moderate depression and severe depression. The last one is also sometimes called major depression.
Mild depression may seem like the most amorphous — after all, can someone be just a little depressed? But it’s definitely possible, and it may be important to be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of this condition.
Generally speaking, depression is a mental health condition that negatively impacts the way you feel and act.
For the most part, symptoms of all types of depression are similar, with the differences being in the severity of symptoms. Some examples of depressive symptoms are:
Feelings of sadness
Feelings of hopelessness
Feelings of worthlessness
No longer enjoying social activities you once liked
Appetite or weight changes
A change in sex drive
To be diagnosed with depression, these symptoms must last for at least two weeks. If you have mild depression, you may feel some of the things listed above, but not as severely as someone with moderate or major depression.
One form of mild depression is called dysthymia, which is mild depression that is long-lasting and persistent. This mental health condition is much more common in women than men and can really affect your quality of life. Some people with dysthymia may also have bipolar disorder.
Some people with dysthymia will also experience bouts of major depression. The symptoms of dysthymia are the same as the ones listed above, but the diagnosis requirements separate dysthymia from other types of depression. To be diagnosed with dysthymia, you must have a history of depression for at least two years, instead of just two weeks.
A mental health professional is trained to help patients navigate depressive disorders and identify signs of a depressed mood. If you feel you may have mild depression, use online mental health services to figure out what type of treatment could help you. While depression treatment is very individualized, there are some common types of treatment that a healthcare provider may suggest.
Research has found that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be a helpful tool for those living with depression.
Within CBT, you will work with a therapist to identify patterns and behaviors that don’t serve you. Then, you’ll find ways to change these behaviors so that you feel better.
Antidepressants are another effective treatment option. To understand how they work, you need to know a bit about depression.
Scientists suspect that depression is caused by low levels of some neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine, which are tasked with transmitting information between neurons. Antidepressants can increase levels of some of these neurotransmitters, which can lessen depression symptoms.
There are different types of antidepressant medications. These include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (like citalopram), serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (like venlafaxine) and tricyclic antidepressants (like nortriptyline).
For many people, it can take four to eight weeks on antidepressants before you may notice a difference in depression, although some symptoms can start to improve sooner.
Before going on an antidepressant, be sure to tell a healthcare professional if you have other medical conditions or are taking any other medications, so that you can avoid any negative reactions from antidepressants.
Within depression, there are different severities — like mild depression, moderate depression and severe depression. While there are no specific guidelines that have to be used to diagnose each type, a mental health provider can assess your depressive symptoms and history and tell you what type of depression you may have.
If you have mild clinical depression that has persisted for two years or more, it could be a mental health condition called dysthymia.
If you are dealing with mild depression, therapy or even medication can help. If you would like to seek help for your symptoms of depression, you can schedule a psychiatry consultation.