Step 4: Read and complete the decision guide to learn more about your symptoms.
Sometimes people are distressed to find out that their symptoms do not fit into a typical pattern.
Being described as "atypical," however, is usually not bad news. In a sense, each of us is atypical. No two forms of depression are alike.
Instead of being concerned about "diagnosing" depression, it may be better to think instead about being alert to mood problems and getting them evaluated by a trained professional. The different diagnostic categories give you and your healthcare provider a framework for evaluating the problems you have.
In fact, most people don't fit perfectly into one specific category. Over time, the goal is to gradually define your specific problems and to carefully review treatment options, understanding the advantages and disadvantages of each. All the while, it's good to keep an open mind, trying different approaches until you figure out what works best.
Sometimes a depression is called "atypical" because another illness is more significant: another psychiatric illness (for example, an eating disorder or anxiety disorder); a problem with substance use or abuse; a medical illness (like an underactive thyroid gland); or a medication effect (for example, a side effect of prednisone). Thus, it always remains important to pay attention to your general health rather than thinking about mental health in isolation.
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