The American Psychiatric Association defines dysthymia as depressed mood most of the time for at least two years, along with at least two of the following symptoms: poor appetite or overeating; insomnia or excessive sleep; low energy or fatigue; low self-esteem; poor concentration or indecisiveness; and hopelessness.
With all the myths and tragedies running around my head lately, it’s perfect poetic justice that the word dysthymia comes from the Greek. And I’m starting to think that’s what I have.
My raison d’etre in this land of depression (or whose labor and delivery unleashed the beast) is now approaching four years old. My depressive symptoms linger on. They’ve certainly lessened, that’s for sure. I no longer want to chop off my fingers, run out the door and never come back, or think I’m a completely horrible, terrible mother. But like a thin fog that spreads layer after misty layer until the terrain is no longer recognizable, it’s lurking and oozing its way into the corners of my life. On the days the sun doesn’t shine, I’m chilled to the bone, the damp crawling inside and refusing to leave.
Postpartum has passed the baton to dysthymia.
The Internet can give you whatever leverage you need to make whatever case you want so I can prove it.
Depression that begins as a mood fluctuation may deepen and persist when equilibrium cannot be restored because of poor internal regulation or external stress.
Postpartum = mood fluctuation
Poor internal regulation = my anxiety-ridden self
External stress = meeting the needs of three small children
Equilibrium null and void = deepened and persistent depression
I also never had the appetite or sleep disturbances associated with clinical depression, but have my fair share of “anhedonia (inability to feel pleasure), social withdrawal, guilt, and irritability,” which the American Psychiatric Association is considering adding to an alternative definition.
Nothing like self-diagnosis. But if it’s an open and closed case of dysthymia, why am I not responding to treatment? The article mentions recovery. I’d like some of that please.
I think there’s a hole in the fabric of mental health for women beyond the grasp of postpartum, but still not functioning in a productive and positive way. If a traumatic event, which birth and what follows can be, unleashes a maelstrom of symptoms that were lying just below the surface, what then? What can we do for those women who don’t fit the textbook mold of either postpartum or major depression?
How do we destymie dysthymia?