Atypical Depression – Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Atypical depression – a form of depression that is very difficult to be cured, has such symptoms as change of the body-weight, increased drowsiness and feeling of anxiety. Next you’ll read about the reasons of the occurrence of atypical depression and the possibilities of diagnosing it.

Atypical depression

What is atypical depression?

 It’s a subtype of depression that has its own special characteristics. A person who has classic depression manifests 5 or more of the following symptoms:

  • Sadness
  • Loss of vital energy
  • Feeling of hopelessness
  • Impossibility of enjoying the favorite activities
  • Difficulty in focusing
  • Uncontrolled tearfulness
  • Difficulty to make a decision
  • Irritability
  • Increased need for sleep
  • Insomnia or increased drowsiness
  • Dental pain or digestive disorder
  • Decreased libido
  • Headaches
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Attempts to commit suicide

With atypical depression fewer symptoms are manifested than with classic depression. Besides, atypical depression occurs at those sufferers that had earlier an episode of classic depression.

What are the symptoms of the atypical depression?

The main distinct feature of the atypical depression is the instant mood reaction to a situation. In other words, the patient feels immediately better after a positive event in his life. This particularity is not valid for the major depression or melancholy. In addition to this reaction other 2 symptoms from the following list are taken into account:

  • Drowsiness
  • Overeating leading to weight gain
  • Increased sensibility to rejection, that influences the ability to function properly in the society and at work
  • Feeling of burdensome, paralysis and heaviness in the limbs

What are the causes?

It is considered that depression occurs as a result of the violation of the chemical balance in the brain. These chemical elements – like for example neurotransmitters that ensure communication between brain cells – include serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. While the causes of depression are not exactly known, the risk factors of depression include:

  • Genetic factor
  • Significant loss, resulting from death, separation, divorce, that causes grief
  • Interpersonal conflicts and, as a result, feeling of guilt
  •  physical, sexual or emotional violence
  • important event in life, such as transfer, change or loss of a job, graduation of school or university, retirement
  • A serious disease such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, HIV
  • Alcohol or substance abuse
  • Withdrawal or expulsion from the family or other social groups

What methods of treatment exist?

It is most likely that the doctor will prescribe antidepressants. One of the particular characteristics of atypical depression is that the treatment with monoamine oxidase inhibitors and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors serotonin gives a quick result. Unlike classic depression the atypical one is not treated with the old antidepressants like the tricyclic ones.

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The antidepressants based on Monoamine oxidase inhibitors are the most effective in treating atypical depression; nonetheless the doctors are reluctant in prescribing them. This is due to the fact that these drugs can have an unpleasant effect with the consumed food. The people taking these drugs must maintain a special diet. The patients must limit themselves in consuming carbohydrates and fats, but also in consuming products rich in tyramine. Tyramine inhibits the effect of monoamine oxidase and amino acids that neutralize the tyramine. These are the drinks and products that contain tyramine:

  • Aged cheeses; cottage cheese and cream cheese are considered safe
  • Smoked meat: sausage such as salami, pepperoni, mortadella and basturma
  • Any products whose storage rules haven’t been respected or the products that have been in the fridge for more than 2 weeks
  • Any mix of different products – like pizza- that can include products rich in tyramine
  • Sauerkraut
  • draught beer
  • Fermented soy products, including soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, bean pate and miso soup
  • Brewer’s yeast and yeast extracts (ordinary Baker’s yeast are safe)
  • Fodder beans and pods of forage beans
  • Banana peel
  • The consummation of alcohol must also be limited – 100 grams of wine, 340 grams of bottled or canned beer and 28 grams of liquor –  or excluded

In addition, these antidepressants interact with drugs that can be bought without prescription like:

  • for weight loss and weight control
  • for cold and fever
  • sprays and drops for nose
  • inhalators or pills for asthma
  • for cough
  • natural doping, such as ephedra and ginseng

It is also recommended to reduce the dose of caffeine.

Antidepressants of this type require rejection of the above-mentioned substances and products during the use and for three, four weeks after the end of the use. High level of tyramina can cause a dangerous reaction, for example:

  • conscience confusion
  • headache
  • heart pain
  • high blood pressure (hypertension)
  • nausea and vomiting
  • vision problems

Antidepressants of this type include the following drugs: selegelin, isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil) and tranylcypromine (Parnat).

Are there alternative methods of treatment?

People suffering from the atypical depression and also from the hyper function of the thyroid gland or growth hormone deficit know that the treatment with hormones as a good effect. In addition, the combination of antidepressants and anxiety syndrome drugs like benzodiazepines may be designated for the treatment of depression, and depression associated with anxiety syndrome. Benzodiazepine must be taken with caution, since it has a high risk of addiction.

Because of the restrictions concerning the type of monoamine oxidase inhibitor antidepressants, doctors often use antidepressants like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. The aim of these products is to increase serotonin levels in the brain. More new drugs act on a basis of norepinephrine and serotonin. These drugs are:

  • Fluoxetine (Prozac)
  •  Sertraline (Zoloft)
  • Paroxetine (Paxil)
  • Fluvoxamine (Luvox)
  • Escitalopram (Lexapro)
  • Citalopram (Celexa)

Patients who after taking antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, have prescribed antidepressants of the monoamine oxidase Inhibitors type must wait five weeks before taking the medication. This is due to the relationship between the side effects of both drugs. Side effects of serotonin antidepressant drugs include:

  • Abstinence syndrome
  • Increased sensitivity to sunlight
  • Reduced level of sugar in blood
  • Rash
  • Drowsiness and lethargy
  • Dysfunction of the kidneys and liver.

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