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From time to time, everyone has a bad day. Life is stressful. With the amount of responsibility heaped on Americans, both in our professional and personal lives, who wouldn’t feel sad and tired on occasion? This mood is fleeting for some people. It passes in less than twenty-four hours and they get back to feeling normal again.
There are others, though, who can’t shake that nagging, depressed mood. According to Harvard Health Publications, up to 6 percent of the population has experienced these episodes for as long as two years or more.
Dysthymia is a serious condition. It’s often referred to as “mild” depression because those suffering from it can still function in their daily lives, unlike a major depressive episode. However, the symptoms of dysthymia are no less difficult to cope with and they last longer.
The Symptoms of Dysthymic Disorder (Dysthymia) – AKA Persistent Depressive Disorder
In May 2013, The American Psychiatric Association (APA) published the 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual For Mental Disorders, called accordingly, the DSM-5. In this latest revision, the APA replaced Dysthymia with Persistent Depressive Disorder. So what does this replacement mean?
Both Dysthymic Disorder and Chronic Major Depressive Disorder are included in this new condition. The APA felt that both conditions were too similar to be considered separate.
The symptoms for Persistent Depressive Disorder (Dysthymia) include:
- A depressed mood for more days than not, for at least two years
- Feelings of helplessness and low self-esteem
- Loss of appetite or overeating
- Difficulty making decisions and poor concentration
- Fatigue or low energy
- During the two-year disturbance, at least two of the above must be present without a break in symptoms lasting longer than two months
The cause of this condition is due to a chemical imbalance in the brain, and can be induced by stress, trauma and social circumstances. Because of its long-term effects, many of those who suffer from the condition assume their symptoms are a part of their personality. So more often than not, dysthymia goes undiagnosed.
Research has shown that 75 percent of patients with dysthymia also suffer a co-occurring disorder, such as anxiety, alcoholism or drug addiction. Substance abuse is generally a form of self-medicating, an effort to dull painful symptoms or quiet negative thoughts. However short the relief, though, dependence on alcohol and drugs only serves to worsen dysthymic disorder.
Treatment for Dysthymic Disorder
People suffering from depression might feel that every problem is unsolvable. The illness can alienate them from their colleagues, friends and family. Often, these feelings of desperation and the sense of isolation bring about major depressive episodes, making it even more difficult, if not impossible, to function at a normal level.
Dysthymia (high functioning depression) is a medical condition that can be treated.
Qualified physicians may prescribe the proper medication in order to balance the brain’s chemistry and address any co-occurring conditions. Once a balance is a found, various therapies are useful in developing new patterns of thought, improving social coping mechanisms and healing emotional wounds. Cognitive Therapy has been shown to be very effective at treating depression and a combination of medication and cognitive therapy together have shown even better results than either one alone.
If you’ve been having a bad day for as long as you can remember, you might suffer from dysthymic disorder and not even know it. Seek expert medical treatment, get the help you deserve and start feeling like yourself again.