Dysthymia is chronic depression with recurring symptoms of sadness and hopelessness lasting for several years. It is not characterized by acute depressive episodes but by an ongoing depressed feeling. Dysthymia is most common in women and is believed to be hereditary. Although it is a low-grade depression, Dysthymia is still a serious condition. Approximately six percent of the population is thought to have dysthymia.
The specific cause of dysthymia is unknown. Risk factors for developing dysthymia include
Dysthymia can develop in the elderly because of loneliness, physical disability, or a decline in mental state. In older men, low testosterone may be a factor.
The symptoms of dysthymia are similar to symptoms of general depression. The difference is that dysthymia is chronic, with symptoms occurring on most days for at least two years.
The symptoms of dysthymia include
To diagnose dysthymia, your doctor will do a routine physical and psychological examination. He or she will ask questions to assess your current mental and emotional state. Be prepared to discuss your symptoms.
Medication and psychotherapy (talk therapy) are the most common treatments for dysthymia.
The medications used for dysthymia are the same ones used to treat major depression. These commonly include fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), paroxetine (Paxil), and citalopram (Celexa). You may need to try different medications and dosages to find an effective solution for you.
Talk therapy is a beneficial treatment option for many people. Seeing a therapist is an effective way to learn to express your thoughts and feelings. You will also learn how to cope with your emotions. The following types of talk therapy are often helpful:
Dysthymia will not just go away, but you can be an active participant in your treatment plan. Lifestyle remedies include
Because dysthymia is a chronic condition, some people will not recover completely. Treatment will help many people manage their symptoms, but it is not successful for all patients. Some patients symptoms can cause personal or professional difficulties.
Depression does increase your risk of suicide. If you or someone you know has dysthymia, be aware of behaviors that could signal suicidal thoughts. These behaviors include
Dysthymia can develop into more serious depression if left untreated. It is important to seek professional help.