Dysthymia (persistent depressive disorder) is a state of frequently experiencing a low mood. It’s often described as a mild form of depression. In the early stages, one may not experience dysthymia consistently.
As a general rule, dysthymia does not get worse. If dysthymia “gets worse” it would mean that it developed into major depression. Simply experiencing dysthymia does not mean that you will eventually develop a worse form of depression. Many people don’t experience dysthymia further than the early stages.
People with dysthymia usually “coast” in the same low mood or experience periods of a mix between normalcy and dysthymia. Dysthymia is a form of depression, however, since it’s so mild it can usually be cured relatively quickly with the right treatment.
Which Antidepressant is best for Dysthymia?
There are a couple antidepressants that are typically used to treat dysthymia. It’s important to talk to your doctor about which may be right for you.
The kind of antidepressants that are typically prescribed are serotonin reuptake inhibitors and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors. This is typical with many forms of depression as these types of medication help regulate mood by manipulating the way your brain is currently working.
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Inhibitors such as these “inhibit” the exchange of chemicals that is currently taking place in the brain. Depression is caused by a chemical imbalance which is usually the physical result of trauma, stress, etc. This happens when “happy” chemicals are not being released and “sad” chemicals are essentially being released more.
Being on an antidepressant can help regulate someone’s chemical balance faster. However, there are some instances where taking an antidepressant can cause more long term harm than good. It’s important to research your options, talk to your doctor, and understand any potential side effects in relation to your unique circumstance.
How to Treat Dysthymia Naturally?
The most effective natural ways to treat dysthymia are by working with a therapist in psychotherapy (talk therapy), implementing a healthy lifestyle and by taking active measures to reduce stress and anxiety.
Doing all three of these is obviously most effective. If your body is nourished/supported with healthy food and exercise, your mind has a better chance to regulate itself. Also, if you are able to work through underlying issues and stress points in therapy, this will significantly boost that same progress toward a regulated brain.
Most people have underlying trauma and stress that has not been dealt with. The effects of this (long term) can be much more severe than a mild form of depression such as dysthymia. Stress has the crushing ability to weaken the immune system and cause disease if large amounts of it are harbored and not released.
Is there a cure for Dysthymia?
Yes. Dysthymia itself is relatively simple to cure with consistent effort. Since it’s such a mild form compared to other types of depression, a cure is achievable with talk therapy, a healthy lifestyle and in some cases, the use of medication (usually temporary).
Staying consistent on your treatment plan is the key. You will not see much benefit from going to therapy only a couple times or by barely excising. Come up with a health plan that fits with your lifestyle and is sustainable. Especially when implementing exercise for the first time, it’s important to start out slow and increase exercise frequency and intensity as you go.
Taking on too much at once causes most people to give up. Start slow by working out once a week and going to therapy every other week and eating less junk food. Gradually increase your workouts to 3-5 times per week and forma healthier diet while doing so.
Give yourself plenty of time to see results too. Think if it as a new way of life, not just a temporary practice. Allow yourself time to settle into it.
What is the difference between Major Depression and Dysthymia?
The difference between major depression and dysthymia is that major depression symptoms are intense but come in bursts and then are gone for a while. Symptoms of dysthymia are the opposite. They are more persistent but are much more mild than those of major depression.
People with both major depression and dysthymia often experience the same symptoms. It’s the frequency and level of intensity that generally differ the two from one another.
How do I know if I have Dysthymia?
We all feel depressed, sad or low at times. It’s a normal part of being human. If you’re stressed and it seems like you feel low more often than not, how can you tell of you have dysthymia or not?
In order to be diagnosed with dysthymia, someone must be experiencing a low mood (lack of interest, low self-esteem, no motivation, etc.) for a period of at least two years. During this time, the low mood should be experienced more days than it is not experienced.
For example, if someone feels a variety of sad/depressed symptoms for 4-7 days per week for 2 or more years, they most likely have dysthymia. Even of some of the “low” days are less intense than others.
Usually, a few symptoms of depression must be experienced during this time in order for for dysthymia to be properly diagnosed. The low mood will effect areas of everyday life as a result.
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Symptoms of Dysthymia
The symptoms of dysthymia are similar to those of other forms of depression. Here are a few of the most common symptoms.
- Feeling worthless
- Feeling hopeless
- Constant Sadness
- Loss of interest in things
- Weight gain
- Trouble sleeping
- Feeling anxious
In conclusion, dysthymia cannot get worse and still be considered dysthymia. Major depression could develop, however, this would decrease the frequency that depressive symptoms or experienced (even though they become more intense).
As previously mentioned, someone has to be experiencing a “low” mood most days a week for at least two years in order to be diagnosed. However, if you feel depressive symptoms often (say, 1-3 times a week) and it’s ongoing, speak to a professional counselor and implement a healthy lifestyle regardless.
Just because you may not qualify for a diagnosis does not mean you shouldn’t take proactive measures to achieve a better quality of life. Mental instability of any kind deserves support and attention.