Eeyore, the old grey Donkey, stood by the side of the stream, and looked at himself in the water.
“Pathetic,” he said. “That’s what it is. Pathetic.”
He turned and walked slowly down the stream for twenty yards, splashed across it, and walked slowly back on the other side. Then he looked at himself in the water again.
“As I thought,” he said. “No better from THIS side. But nobody minds. Nobody cares. Pathetic, that’s what it is.” ~A. A. Milne
As much as we love Eeyore, the character from Winnie-the-Pooh books, it seems clear that he suffers from some type of depression. His life is characterized by lethargy, persistent melancholy, negativity, and isolation. While he may not suffer from clinical depression (after all, he still functions relatively well despite his gloominess), it could be argued that he has persistent depressive disorder (also called dysthymia): an overall sad mood that lasts at least two years.
What does a fictional donkey with a pinned-on tail have to do with behavioral health? It’s easy to take Eeyore less-than-seriously, but in real life, any type of depressive disorder deserves careful attention and treatment. Even though the donkey accepts his gloominess as part of life, real-life humans have more options at our disposal.
If you or a loved one struggles with intense sadness, irritability, or fatigue every day for more than two weeks, you may be dealing with a type of depression.
Clinical depression, or major depressive disorder, is characterized by the following symptoms:
- Persistent sadness, anxiety, or feelings of “emptiness”
- Loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy
- Concentration and memory issues
- Changes in appetite and weight
- Irritability, restlessness, boredom
- Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
- Pessimism and hopelessness
- Insomnia or oversleeping
- Suicide ideation
Clinical depression interferes with your ability to function. It’s hard to make decisions; daily tasks feel impossible or exhausting; it’s hard to feel like you care about anyone. Symptoms like these make it difficult to hold down a job, stay healthy, and have good relationships. Depression becomes even more severe when you begin to feel like life isn’t worth living or that others would be better off without you.
If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, call or text 988, The Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, immediately. A caring counselor will help you find the help you need.
If you read the list of depression symptoms above and are feeling confused or discouraged because they don’t fit your situation, even though you haven’t felt happy in a long time, you may be suffering from another type of depression.
As mentioned above, someone with persistent depressive disorder experiences milder symptoms but over a long period of time. Or, if the symptoms you’re experiencing are not long-lasting but occur regularly and with intensity, you may be dealing with atypical depression, in which you experience relief from your symptoms now and then and even have good moods sometimes in response to happy events.
Other types of depression include premenstrual dysphoric disorder, postpartum depression, and seasonal affective disorder (or SAD). Bipolar disorder is another mood disorder in which depression plays a key role, alternating with states of mania or hypomania.
The point is that if you are feeling unusually sad or emotional for a longer period of time than is comfortable, it doesn’t hurt to reach out for help. You have nothing to lose. Even if you don’t have a type of depression, you may be dealing with other mental health issues that can find relief with therapy and perhaps medication.
Typically, treatment for depression involves a combination of medication (usually antidepressants) and therapy. At Miramont Behavioral Health in Middleton, WI, we understand that depression comes in many forms, and we provide careful assessment to help determine the best course of treatment.
For severe depression, inpatient treatment might be the best option, as it provides around-the-clock care so that clients can stabilize before transitioning to lower levels of care. Partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient treatment are also options for those who need consistent support while living at home. If you or a loved one need help, contact us today. We serve teens, adults, and seniors.