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Melancholic depression

Melancholic depression is a severe form of depressive disorder or mental illness and is psychotic in nature. It is primarily caused by biological and genetic factors rather than psychological factors. It is a mental state that is characterized by feelings of extreme sadness, hopelessness and loss of interest and pleasure in almost everything. Person with Melancholic depression becomes non-responsive to happy incidents or surroundings even for the short period. Melancholic depression also leads to psychomotor disturbances such as low energy, poor concentration, slowed or agitated movements.


Causes of melancholia

It is believed that certain biological factors and genetic factors play an important role in development of this clinical depression. Studies also show that those who suffer from melancholia generally have a family history of depression disorders. Melancholia may not be an outcome of few negative incidents in life, but surely such events act as a trigger and initiate the problem. Biologically, melancholic depression is believed to be caused by a chemical imbalance or malfunctioning of the neurotransmitters in the brain.

Symptoms of Melancholia


  • Little or no response to positive and pleasant events.
  • Total loss of interest in things.
  • Low moods in the morning hours associated with low energy levels.
  • Strong feeling of guilt without any apparent reason.
  • Psychomotor Retardation with lack of facial expressions, slowing down of speech and body movements. They may also exhibit Psychomotor agitation such as pacing, twirling the hair, gesturing extensively, speaking incoherently, or aggression.
  • Cognitive impairment such as poor concentration and inattention.
  • Significant weight loss due to lack of interest in food.
  • Sleep problems, either insomnia or excessive sleep.

A person is diagnosed as suffering from melancholia when constantly experiencing extreme sadness accompanied by any 3 or 4 features mentioned above.

Treatment options

Unlike situational depression which is caused by sad events in life, melancholia is caused by biological disorder. Hence counseling and psychotherapy is probably not the solution. Treatment requires physical intervention via antidepressant drugs and also Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) or shock treatment in case of extreme severity. Electroconvulsive therapy is recommended only for the severest forms of depressions, when a patient is not responding to antidepressant treatment or is posing a threat to self or others. Electroconvulsive therapy has certain side effects like short and long-term memory loss, hence it is advised only when the situation demands.

Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression can begin any time after delivery and last up to a year. Caring for the newborn is stressful and it is common for mothers to feel over anxious, tensed and exhausted. But, if a mother feels less motivated to care for the child, loses appetite and concentration that persists for many days, she needs help. Medical examination of these changes in attitude is undertaken to determine if she is going through postpartum depression. If the symptoms persist for more than two weeks after childbirth, it is recognized as postpartum depression.


Check for following symptoms:


  • Sadness
  • Inability to sleep
  • Loss of appetite, weight loss
  • Loss of energy or motivation
  • Feeling worthless or guilty.
  • Lack of interest
  • Wanting to cry
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Feeling restless or irritable.
  • Thoughts or ideas about suicide.
  • Worrying about hurting the newborn.
  • Having headaches, chest pains, heart palpitations and hyperventilation.

Causes of postpartum depression

While research activities continue to evaluate the exact reasons for postpartum depression, it is commonly associated with changes in body, mind and lifestyle adjustments.

Physical changes


  • Levels of hormones estrogen and progesterone drop sharply just after childbirth and can trigger depression.
  • Hormones produced by thyroid gland may drop rapidly, resulting in fatigue, sluggish feeling and depression.
  • Changes in body metabolism, blood pressure, amount of blood in body, after childbirth does negatively affect mental state of woman.

Emotional reasons


  • An unsatisfied birth experience like spouse not present during child delivery
  • Medical complications that make it difficult to care for baby
  • Anxiety to be a super mother
  • A sense of losing body image
  • Unable to accept responsibilities of motherhood.

Lifestyle Adjustments


  • Meeting requirements for newborn including the financial aspect
  • Absence of support from spouse, family resulting in self-reliance
  • Having very less free time and broken sleep patterns
  • Body pain or delivery complications that restrict movements
  • Problems with breast-feeding
  • Modifications in sexual relationship with partner.


Affective disorder

Also known as maniac depressive disorder, bipolar affective disorder or maniac depression, bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition that can be managed with appropriate treatment. People with bipolar disorder experience a change in their energy levels and activities along with severe mood swings. This disorder is aptly named bipolar disorder because the mood of a person varies between two opposite poles of euphoria and depression. The highly elevated mood episodes are known as mania or extremely sad moods are called depression. A patient suffering from bipolar disorder might experience mania, depression or a mixed feeling of both. A mild episode of elevated mood is known as hypomania. Normal mood persists in between episodes of mania and depression.


Bipolar I disorder: In this type of disorder, the patient has at least one episode of mania or mixed mood and often gets depressed. In between mood swings, the patient might appear to have normal mood. Mood swings can come about with changing seasons.

Bipolar II disorder: In this type of disorder, the patient has at least one episode of depression and at least one episode of hypomania. Hypomania is not a severe form of mania.

Cyclothymic Disorder: This is the mildest form of bipolar disorder. The patient experiences mild gloominess and somewhat elevated feelings. Mood swings are less severe and prevail for a short period of time. People with cyclothymic disorder might develop severe bipolar disorder with time.


Causes for affective disorder

Hereditary factor: Any relative from the patient's family might have been a victim of this disorder thus passing on the disorder.

Hormone level fluctuation: It is understood that varying hormonal levels in the body could lead to bipolar disorder. For e.g. people with altering thyroid hormone levels are prone to this disorder.

Brain part: Varying size and shape of parts in the brain can also lead to bipolar disorder.

Chemical imbalance in the brain: If the chemical levels in the brain are not at the optimum levels, it can result in bipolar disorder.


Treating Bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder varies from person to person and so the treatment offered is also based on the current condition of the patient. Medications can help control extreme mood swings. Psychotherapy or talk therapy enables the patient to talk about his/her condition to the health professional.

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Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: November 21, 2017