Dysthymic Disorder

 Dysthymic Disorder (dis thigh'mic), is a mild depression also known as Neurotic depression, Dysthymia, or Chronic depression (not the same as a clinical depression) and is a mood disorder in the depression family.

-People suffering from a dysthymic depression may feel an overall lack of enjoyment in their lives.

This feeling that something is missing, is longer lasting but less debilitating than a clinical or unipolar depression.

-A Dysthymic depression usually does not prevent a person from day to day functioning.

It can however, affect their sleep patterns, daily activities, and most importantly, their overall feeling of well-being and happiness.


 The main differences between a dysthymic depression and other forms of depression are the severity of the depression signs, and the duration of the symptoms, oftentimes beginning in childhood and lasting many years, sometimes a lifetime if left untreated.



   Symptoms of Dysthymic Disorder

 Those suffering with this chronic disorder can have fairly mild depression symptoms from day to day, but over a stretch of years and sometimes a lifetime, this can have a severe cumulative effect.

-People showing symptoms of neurotic depression have work related problems, social isolation and a higher risk of suicide.

 Although the symptoms of neurotic depression are the same, though not as severe as clinical or unipolar depression, the fact that the duration is at least 2 years can make it much harder to diagnose and therefore treat.

-Because dysthymic depression often starts early in a persons life, it is common for those suffering with this condition to think that it is normal to feel the way they do.

 Being unaware of their condition, quite often sufferers will wait 10 years or more, sometimes never seeking the help they need. (2 out of 3 never get any treatment at all.)

-Of major concern is that in some cases, dysthymia may develop into a unipolar depression. In these cases the clinician refers to it as a double depression.

 People who suffer from dysthymic disorder also complain of low energy, either having insomnia or getting too much sleep, overeating or very little appetite and low self-esteem.

-These sufferers also never have any manic episodes with feelings of euphoria. If you have neurotic depression, you may fail to remember the last time you felt happy.

  Family and friends may come to believe you're just negative and moody.



   Diagnosis for Dysthymic Depression

 It is essential that a complete physical exam be performed to eliminate any possible medical conditions that may be causing the depression.

-Importantly, neurotic depression is not directly caused by any general medical condition or by the use of any prescription medications or substance abuse.

 The question then is whether any chronic medical condition is physically causing a depression, or is it creating a chronic psychological stress, which in turn is causing the depression.

-In other words, if the medical condition were cured, would the depression be cured as well, if so it is not dysthymic depression, but a depression caused by the chronic medical condition.

 Doctors evaluate dysthymic disorder by taking a careful history of mood and other mental health symptoms that have occurred over the past several months and even years.

-There is no blood test or other physical test that can be used to diagnose dysthymic depression.

 As with all psychological disorders, utilizing the patient's history is very important in evaluating, and in the diagnosis of this mild depression.




   Treatment for Dysthymic Depression

 Treatment of dysthymic disorder is much the same as with unipolar depression. Doctors often use psychotherapy, including cognitive therapy, to help change the way the sufferer thinks and processes their daily life events.

-Doctors may prescribe depression drugs to help with the therapy, and some respond well. The exact cause of dysthymic disorder is unknown.

 As with clinical or unipolar depression, researchers do know that it affects women more than twice as often as it does men.

-It also affects up to 5% of the general population.

 By definition dysthymia is a chronic condition that lasts at least 2 years. Some people may completely recover while others may have lingering symptoms despite treatment.

-Complications can occur from the antidepressant medications taken.

-However, the bigger risk is that without treatment the disorder may progress into a clinical depression, which can affect marriages, relationships, jobs and even the desire to live.

-Dysthymic disorder is a condition that affects many people, but with proper diagnosis and treatment, people can find their lives again and indeed be happy.

-Over 80% of the people who do get treatment will feel better in only a few short weeks!

_______________________________________________________________

"We all thought she'd just been in a bad mood all these years, but it was a Dysthymic disorder, and we're sure glad to have her back!"


 more on Dysthymia from Psychology Today.


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back to Warning Signs of Depression


-Additional Information on Depression ...

Self Help for Mild Depression - Running To Fight Depression - Psychotherapy Types

Positive Self Talk - Depression or Eating Disorder? - Clinical Depression Signs

What is Manic Depression? - Manic Depression Symptoms

Manic Depression Diagnosis

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