Question: What is meant by the diagnosis of 'atypical' depression?
Answer: Atypical depression is a special form of depression with highly specific symptoms.
What makes it atypical? Well, in most major depression, the individual suffering with the disorder has difficulty sleeping -- he often sleeps too little or experiences interrupted sleep. In atypical depression, on the other hand, patients experience hypersomnia or oversleeping.
One of the other aspects of atypical depression is an increase in appetite and caloric intake. In most major depression the individual experiences a decrease in appetite and sometimes weight loss, whereas in atypical depression people tend to overeat and in particular experience carbohydrate cravings. Another aspect of atypical depression that's central to the diagnosis is mood reactivity, which refers to the pattern of responding to various life events with a brightening of mood, which is not typical for most major depression. In addition, individuals with atypical depression often experience leaden paralysis where it's very difficult for them to move. They feel very heavy and almost immobilized.