Chronic Depression (Dysthymia) – Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

Chronic depressionDysthymia, or as it is called chronic depression, is a mild form of depression. With dysthymia, depression symptoms can manifest for two or more years. People suffering from chronic depression are usually normal in society, but look constantly miserable.

What are the causes of Chronic Depression (dysthymia)?

Still, experts are not sure by what is Chronic Depression triggered. This form of chronic depression is associated with chemical changes in the brain, induced by serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter or inhibitor that helps the brain to cope with emotions. Stressful life situations, such as chronic disease, certain drugs, problems in personal life or at work, also increase the chances of contracting dysthymia.

What are the signs and symptoms of Chronic Depression (dysthymia)?

  • The constant feeling of sadness and desolation
  • Troubles with sleeping (insomnia or excessive sleepiness)
  • Early wakening in the morning
  • Feelings of hopelessness, helplessness and uselessness
  • Feeling of guilt
  • Loss of interest
  • Loss of energy or exhaustion
  • Trouble in focusing, in thinking and making decisions
  • Change of the appetite (overeating or lack of appetite)
  • Significant mental or physical sluggishness
  • Constant headaches, joint pain or digestive problems that are treated with difficulty
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

How to diagnose dysthymia?

The mental health specialist usually diagnoses on the basis of symptoms. In the case of dysthymia, these symptoms must last a long time, and they manifest in a milder than with major depression.

When making a diagnosis, it is necessary to make sure that the symptoms are not the result of alcohol or drug abuse or the result of a disease, such as hypothyroidism. The symptoms must cause the clinical manifestation of the disorder or decreased interest in social, professional life or other important areas of life.

If the feeling of depression or the depressive mood persists for two weeks, then you should seek help from a doctor or psychiatrist. The doctor will conduct a thorough examination, scrutinizing the history of mental illnesses in your family.

Unfortunately, there are no special tests, such as blood tests, x-rays or other laboratory tests that provide the ability to accurately diagnose Chronic Depression.

How to treat dysthymia?

Even though Chronic Depression is a serious illness, it is treatable. As with other chronic diseases, an important role in the treatment play an early diagnosis and prompt effective treatment that will help to reduce the temporary manifestation and will decrease the risk of recurrence.

In the treatment of dysthymia, the doctor prescribes medication, psychotherapy, such as antidepressants, or a combination of both methods together.

What is psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy used in the treatment of dysthymia and other mood disorders, should help the patient learn how to cope with daily feelings. It can also enhance the effects of drugs and teach the patient to have a healthy lifestyle, and most importantly, it helps the patient and his family understand what a mood disorder is and how to fight it. Psychotherapy has the following types: individual therapy, family therapy, group therapy or support groups composed of people with the same illness as the patient.

How antidepressants help?

There are many different antidepressants for Chronic Depression. Taking into account the physical and mental condition of the patient, the physician will choose the most appropriate antidepressant with the least side effects.

Antidepressant’s effect is manifested in a few weeks after the start of the treatment. At the first onset of Chronic Depression, antidepressants should be taken for at least six months. Moreover, the rejection of antidepressants takes several weeks, so you must inform the attending doctor about wanting to refuse medication.

Are there other ways of treating dysthymia?

Your doctor will talk to you about alternative methods of treatment. For example, with seasonal depression an effective method is phototherapy. If antidepressants do not give effect in treating severe depression, an additional method is electric shock therapy. If with the diagnosis of chronic depression there is maniacal behavior, then maybe the doctor will prescribe mood stabilizers such as lithium or anticonvulsants.

How else can the condition be improved?

The most important step to better health is a timely diagnosis and effective treatment. In addition, you must live a healthy lifestyle, for example, have a well-balanced diet, exercise, avoid alcohol and smoking, and maintain close friendly relationships with family members and friends. This behavior leads to fast recovery.