Pouting is not a Symptom of Depression

by Dr. Lorin Bradbury

Question: Is pouting a symptom of depression?

Depression is a mental disorder that involves the body, mood, and thoughts. Depending on the severity of the depression, it can affect the way a person eats and sleeps. It impacts the way one feels about oneself, and the way one thinks about others and things.

A depressive disorder is not the same as a passing blue mood. People with a depressive disorder generally cannot just “get up and get it together.” Extremely severe depression can result in catatonia, a state that has been described as “waxy flexibility.”

In this state an individual may stand in one position for great periods of time. Also, psychotic features, such as hallucinations or delusions, can accompany severe depression. Without treatment, symptoms can last for weeks, months, or years. Appropriate treatment, can generally help most people overcome depression.

Symptoms of depression include anhedonia, (a loss of interest in activities that were once interesting or enjoyable, including sex); decrease in appetite with weight loss or overeating with weight gain; loss of emotional expression (flat affect); persistent sadness, feelings of hopelessness, pessimism, guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness; social withdrawal; extreme fatigue, or low energy; changes in sleep, including insomnia, or oversleeping; trouble concentrating, remembering, or making decisions; thoughts of death or suicide or suicide attempts.

Today, depression is often treated with medication, but research confirms the efficacy of psychotherapy. Antidepressants should probably be saved for the more severe forms of depression. Research has found that antidepressants are no better than a placebo when treating patients with mild to moderate depression. Psychotherapy, on the other hand, is able to address the underlying issues causing the depression, thus providing long-term benefits to the one experiencing depression.

Getting back to your original question, in contrast to depression, pouting is more of a behavioral characteristic. Sulking and pouting are really just silent forms of tantrums. People use this form of behavior to get their way, to get attention, or to seek revenge.

When taken to extreme, it can be a symptomatic of a personality disorder. Though it is uncomfortable to be around those who pout, and you may feel that somehow you have to make the pouter more comfortable, by doing so you are playing their game. The best thing you can do with those who pout is let them have their silent tantrum and go about your business.

If you are a person who has the need to sooth others and make everyone feel comfortable, you will be more vulnerable to the game playing of the pouter. So beware of your own needs.

Lorin L. Bradbury, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Bethel. For appointments, he can be reached at 543-3266. If you have questions that you would like Dr. Bradbury to answer in the Delta Discovery, please send them to The Delta Discovery, P.O. Box 1028, Bethel, AK 99559, or e-mail them to [email protected]

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