What is Dysthymia?

what is DysthymiaDysthymia is a mood disorder or an affective disorder. It is a minor chronic depression that lasts a very long time. The word dysthymia comes from the Greek and means ” bad moods “. The physical and psychological symptoms of the disorder.

The disease usually appears in early adulthood and can last for years or even decades. It is usually associated with mourning or a stress and it often occurs immediately after a crisis of major depression. Women are two times more likely than men to suffer from dysthymia. The disease has several different names in the past :Depressive neurosis, neurotic depression, depressive personality and persistent anxiety depression.


Dysthymia Causes

The exact cause of dysthymia is not known but researchers believe that a combination of factors plays a role in its development. Heredity can play a role and people with a family history of depression or dysthymia are more at risk of suffering from this condition.

Changes at the level of neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) in the brain may also cause dysthymia. Chronic stress,certain diseases, the social isolation and the thoughts or perceptions on the World can all influence the development of dysthymia. Other conditions associated with mental health (e.g. borderline personality disorder) can also increase the risk of its development.

About a quarter of people with dysthymia develop the disease during their fifties;Then , it is called late-onset dysthymia. Symptoms usually occur after a particular phase of depression which is linked to an emotional shock or loss.


Dysthymia Symptoms

There are some signs in people who have dysthymia are;

  • Changes in appetite
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Depressed mood for long periods of time
  • Lack of energy, fatigue
  • Low self-esteem
  • Feeling of despair
  • An irregular sleep

The severity of these symptoms depend on each person. Some are able to face the demands of daily life whereas others experience an extreme distress that prevent them from doing their normal task at work, at school or in the community.


Dysthymia Diagnosis

A doctor will diagnose dysthymia when a person has depressed mood most of the time for at least 2 years. Irritability may be seen for more than 1 year in children and adolescents. Person should not spend more than 2 months without experiencing at least 2 of the following symptoms:

  • Changes in appetite
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Lack of energy, fatigue
  • Low self-esteem
  • Feeling of despair
  • An irregular sleep

Doctor will also want to ensure that these symptoms are not caused by substance abuse or other conditions such as thyroid issues, anemia or anxiety. Detecting and diagnosing dysthymia isn’t always simple. People do not see themselves depressed and often complain to their doctor for physical ailments rather than psychological. The mental health professionals are not always consulted before the appearance of obvious symptoms. Undiagnosed dysthymia may lead to substance abuse or even suicide.


Dysthymia Treatment and Prevention

Dysthymia can be cured with a similar approach to the treatment of depression by drugs and psychotherapy. The most effective treatment is obtained by a combination of these strategies.

Antidepressants such as the selective inhibitors of serotonin reuptake (SSRIS, e.g. fluoxetine, citalopram, fluvoxamine, paroxetine, sertraline) may be used in the treatment of dysthymia.

The psychotherapeutic approaches of short duration are very effective in treating the symptoms of depression. Effective psychotherapies include cognitive behavioural therapy, interpersonal therapy and support groups:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy helps people to understand how their thoughts affect their feelings and how feelings affect behavior.
  • Interpersonal therapy leads the person to focus on the problems of the person in its relations.
  • Group therapy can also be used for the treatment of dysthymia.
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