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Dysthymia is a milder, but long-lasting form of depression. It’s also called persistent depressive disorder. People with this condition may also have bouts of major depression at times.
Depression is a mood disorder that involves your body, mood, and thoughts. It affects the way you eat and sleep, think about things, and feel about yourself. It’s not the same as being unhappy or in a "blue" mood. It’s not a sign of weakness or something that can be willed or wished away. People with depression can’t "snap out of it" and get better. Treatment is key to recovery.
Dysthymia affects women twice as often as men. Some people may also have depression or bipolar disorder.
There is no clear cause for this type of depression. Mental health professionals think it’s a result of chemical imbalances in the brain. Many factors are thought to contribute to depression. These include environmental, psychological, biological, and genetic factors. Chronic stress and trauma have also been linked to this condition.
Dysthymia seems to run in families, but no genes have yet been linked to it.
Dysthymia is milder, yet more long lasting than major depression. Each person may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
To diagnose this condition, an adult must have a depressed mood for at least 2 years (or one year in children and adolescents), along with at least 2 of the above symptoms. The symptoms of this illness may look like other mental health conditions. Always talk with a healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
Depression often happens with other conditions, such as heart disease, or cancer. It may also happen with substance abuse or anxiety disorders. Often, people with dysthymia grow accustomed to the mild depressive symptoms and do not seek help. But, early diagnosis and treatment is key to recovery.
A diagnosis may be made after a careful psychiatric exam and medical history done by a mental health professional.
Treatment may include one or a combination of the following:
Because this condition usually last for longer than 5 years, long-term treatment may be needed.
If you have depression, there are things you can do to help yourself. Depression can make you feel exhausted, worthless, helpless, and hopeless. Such negative thoughts and feelings may make you feel like giving up. It is important to realize that these negative views are part of the depression and may not reflect reality. Negative thinking fades as treatment begins to take effect. Meanwhile, consider the following:
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