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What Is Atypical Depression in Relationships? Symptoms & Remedies

There are many different ways that depression can affect people, and when it happens in a relationship, it can significantly damage both partners. A subtype of depression known as “atypical depression in relationships” has distinct symptoms and needs particular care.

It is essential to comprehend the traits, symptoms, causes, and possible therapies of atypical depression in partnerships in order to cultivate a more wholesome and encouraging alliance.

What is atypical depression in a relationship?

When it happens in a relationship, atypical depression can show out in special ways that set it apart from traditional types of depression.

Atypical depression, also known as atypical depressive disorder, may present with increased hunger and excessive sleep in contrast to typical depression, which frequently results in decreased appetite and sleeplessness. In other words, the answer to your query is yes, but not in the case of atypical depression. Depression can also induce a loss of appetite.

Importantly, people with atypical depression may exhibit increased sensitivity to perceived rejection or criticism in the context of a relationship, which can cause a great deal of emotional distress and strain.

Additionally, they may display a mood that is strongly impacted by outside circumstances, which means that while they may feel better momentarily in response to good things happening in their lives, they may soon become worse when faced with difficulties or conflicts in their relationships. This pattern may result in a relationship dynamic that is akin to a roller coaster and characterised by volatility and strong emotional reactions.

9 common symptoms of atypical depression in a relationship

Atypical depression can have particular effects on interpersonal relationships. Atypical depression has other symptoms in addition to the classic depressive symptoms, like sadness and interest loss, which can have a significant effect on interpersonal relationships.

Comprehending these indications is essential for recognising and resolving the difficulties they present in a partnership. Nine typical signs of atypical depression in a relationship are as follows:

1. Mood reactivity

Unlike usual depression, atypical depression exhibits a significant improvement in mood in reaction to happy occurrences.

Reactivity can cause emotional states to fluctuate in a relationship; the person may feel happy for a short while during happy times but soon sink back into depression when faced with obstacles or an absence of stimulating stimuli.

People with atypical bipolar depression may experience both depressive episodes and periods of unusually heightened mood.

2. Increased appetite and weight gain

Atypical depressive patients frequently have increased appetites, which can result in weight gain. This symptom can have an impact on one’s sense of self-worth and body image, which could lead to conflict and uneasiness in a relationship since the person may feel less attractive or worry about how their spouse would see their physical changes.

For instance, one partner starts eating more often, particularly comfort food, which causes them to acquire noticeable weight. They worry that their partner could think less of them because of their changing physical appearance.

3. Hypersomnia

One of the most prevalent signs of atypical depression is excessive napping. This may cause the person to spend long hours sleeping, which might throw off regular relationship habits and limit the amount of time spent together. Additionally, it may have an impact on the couple’s social life and activities together, which may cause them to feel distant and alone.

4. Heavy, leaden feelings in arms or legs

One of the main signs of atypical sadness is a feeling of weight or lassitude in the limbs. This physical manifestation may make it difficult for the person to engage in activities or household tasks, which could put more stress on the partner and possibly cause resentment or irritation in the relationship.

5. Long-standing pattern of sensitivity to rejection

Individuals who suffer from atypical depression frequently show a strong sensitivity to criticism or rejection. This can make handling arguments in a relationship especially difficult because even small criticisms or differences of opinion may be interpreted as severe rejections, resulting in strong emotional reactions and possible conflict in the relationship.

6. Significant social impairment

Difficulties in social functioning, particularly in close relationships, might result from atypical depression.

Relationship stress may result from the person’s difficulty reading social signs or from their retreat from social activities. This is especially true if one spouse appreciates social engagement or feels pressured to make up for their partner’s social withdrawal.

7. Interpersonal issues

It can be quite difficult for people with atypical depression to establish and maintain good interpersonal relationships. Their excessive dependence or clinginess, along with their continual need for validation and reassurance from their spouse, can lead to an imbalanced and difficult dynamic in the relationship.

8. Emotional overreactions to events

Atypical depression can cause exaggerated or inappropriate emotional reactions for the circumstances. This might show up in a relationship as overreacting to little things, which can lead to fights escalating needlessly and an unstable emotional atmosphere.

For instance, a minor miscommunication, such as a misread text message, can set off an overwhelming emotional response in the partner suffering from atypical depression, which can result in an out-of-control quarrel.

9. Difficulty maintaining a positive self-image

Atypical depression frequently entails issues with self-worth and self-perception. This can cause ongoing self-doubt and insecurity in a relationship, where the person may constantly look to their partner for reinforcement or question their feelings towards them. This can potentially cause tension and irritation in the relationship.

Five possible reasons for unusual depression

Although atypical depression is similar to other types of depression, it results from a complicated interaction of several causes. Then why does atypical depression occur? Its causes, in contrast to more common forms of depression, are frequently distinguished by distinct biological, psychological, and environmental factors.

For management and treatment to be successful, it is imperative to comprehend these causes. Here are five possible reasons of atypical depression, along with a detailed explanation for each:

1. Genetic factors

Atypical depression may arise due in large part to genetic factors. The risk of getting atypical depression is higher if a close family member has a history of depression or other mood disorders.

Given the genetic propensity, it is possible that some genes linked to mood regulation are inherited, which would increase a person’s vulnerability to this type of depression.

2. Neurochemical imbalances

Neurotransmitter abnormalities, which affect how the brain regulates mood, have been linked to atypical depression. More specifically, abnormalities in the levels of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine are frequently noted. These abnormalities may impact mood, eating, sleep patterns, and general mental health, which may add to the distinct symptoms of atypical depression.

3. Chronic stress and life events

Atypical depression can be brought on by severe life upheavals, traumatic experiences, or ongoing stress. In atypical depression, these stressors might cause mood reactivity and increased sensitivity to environmental changes, in contrast to typical depression when such occurrences might result in a persistently poor mood.

The way that a person reacts to both physical and emotional stress is a major factor in how this ailment starts.

4. Hormonal changes

Atypical depression may also arise as a result of hormonal changes. Mood and emotional control can be affected by changes in hormone levels, such as those that occur during puberty, pregnancy, the postpartum phase, menopause, or as a result of thyroid issues.

These changes in hormones may specifically set off the symptoms of atypical depression, including hypersomnia and emotional reactivity.

5. Personality traits and coping styles

A person may be more susceptible to atypical depression if they have particular personality features, such as an increased sensitivity to rejection or criticism, or if they use particular coping mechanisms, including avoidance or reliance.

These characteristics and coping strategies may influence an individual’s approach to managing stress and interacting with others, increasing their risk of experiencing the distinct symptoms of atypical depression.

Seven potential therapies for atypical depression in a romantic partnership

Conducting an atypical depression test and treating it, particularly in a relationship setting, necessitates a multimodal strategy that takes into account the individual’s distinct symptoms as well as interpersonal interactions.

A mix of lifestyle modifications, psychological therapy, and occasionally medication is commonly used in effective treatment. The following seven therapies could be used to treat atypical depression in a relationship:

1. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

CBT is a very successful treatment for atypical depression. It entails recognising and altering unfavourable thought and behaviour patterns. Relationship dynamics can be improved through CBT’s ability to teach people how to communicate more effectively, control their emotional reactions to rejection, and create healthy coping mechanisms.

2. Interpersonal therapy (IPT)

IPT, which focuses on a person’s interactions with others, is especially helpful for people who suffer from atypical depression. It enhances the quality of romantic and other personal relationships by assisting people in comprehending and resolving problematic relationship patterns, developing communication skills, and providing more emotional support.

3. Medications

Antidepressants, in particular monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), can be useful in treating the symptoms of atypical depression. By reducing symptoms like mood swings, hypersomnia, and increased hunger, medication might help balance neurochemicals and enhance relationship dynamics.

4. Couples therapy

When it comes to treating the effects of atypical depression on a relationship, couples therapy can be very helpful. It offers a safe area for both partners to communicate their thoughts and worries, educate themselves on how depression affects their relationship, and come up with support systems for one another.

5. Lifestyle modifications

A good diet, consistent exercise, and enough sleep are examples of lifestyle modifications that can greatly lessen the symptoms of atypical depression. These changes can also improve mood, vitality, and general well-being, which can have a good impact on the relationship.

6. Techniques for mindfulness and stress management

Stress can be decreased and emotional regulation can be improved with the aid of techniques like mindfulness, yoga, and meditation. Atypical depression is characterised by mood reactivity and heightened sensitivity to rejection. These approaches can be very helpful in managing these symptoms.

7. Community involvement and social support

Taking part in community events and fortifying social relationships can lessen feelings of loneliness and offer emotional support. Building a larger social network can help people in relationships by reducing the expectation that their partner will be their only source of support, which will improve and balance the dynamic of the relationship.


As a subtype of depression, atypical depression often raises a number of questions. The following are responses to some commonly asked questions concerning atypical depression:

What is the frequency of atypical depression?

A typical depression affects a considerable percentage of people with a diagnosis of depression. It can be distinguished from more common kinds of depression by its distinct symptoms, which include increased hunger and mood reactivity.

What is the purpose of atypical antidepressants?

The main purpose of atypical antidepressants is to treat depression, especially in cases where patients don’t respond well to conventional antidepressants or have negative side effects. Their action on distinct brain chemicals may make them useful for treating atypical depressive symptoms.

Is appetite loss a result of depression?

It is true that depression can lead to an appetite loss. Traditional types of depression are more likely to cause appetite reduction, which can result in weight loss and a diminished interest in food, but atypical depression frequently causes an increase in appetite.

Which medication is recommended for atypical depression?

For atypical depression, monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) are frequently regarded as the recommended medication. Patients with specific symptoms such as hypersomnia, increased hunger, and mood reactivity benefit most from them.

Can abnormal depression be treated?

Atypical depression is quite treatable even though it cannot be cured in the conventional sense. Many people with atypical depression are able to effectively manage their symptoms and lead satisfying lives with the help of proper medication, therapy, and lifestyle modifications.

In conclusion

Atypical depression is a particular type of depression that poses particular difficulties in a relationship. Interpersonal dynamics are significantly impacted by its distinctive characteristics, which include emotional reactivity, increased hunger, hypersomnia, and heightened sensitivity to rejection.

Effective treatment requires an understanding of the underlying reasons, which might include hormonal imbalances, genetic predispositions, and particular personality features. A comprehensive strategy that combines relationship-focused interventions like couples therapy with individual therapies like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and medication is necessary to address atypical depression in relationships.

Important factors in treating symptoms and enhancing relationship health include modifying one’s lifestyle and surrounding oneself with helpful people. In the end, identifying and managing atypical depression strengthens the relationship between partners and helps the individual by fostering a stronger understanding, resilience, and bond.

What is the difference between typical and atypical depression in a relationship?

Comparing typical and atypical depression side by side can help you appreciate the differences in the context of a relationship. The following table outlines the main differences:

Looking at the table, you ask, why does depression cause a lack of appetite? Depression affects brain chemicals regulating mood and hunger signals. In the case of atypical depression, there is usually an increase in appetite because of altered neurochemicals leading to mood-dependent eating behaviors.