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    Overview of Dysthymia
    You are here: Home > Pharmacy News | Health Articles/Tips > Dysthymia


      Dysthymia is a mood disorder. It could either a depressed mood or loss of interest of pleasure in all or almost all usual activities and pastimes that lasts at least for two years. Dysthimia occurs more frequently in women than in men.

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      What Causes Dysthymia?

      The exact cause of dysthymia is unknown. It may be related to some changes in the brain that involve a chemical called serotonin. Serotonin helps your brain handle emotions and makes judgments. Personality problems, medical problems and ongoing life stress may also play a role. Dysthimia can occur alone or in conjunction with more severe depression or other mood or psychiatric disorder. It is common for people to have dysthimic disorder for two or more years and then develop a major depressive episode.

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      What Are the Types of Dysthymia?

      There is no specific type of dysthimia; however, the parent depression could be classified as follows.

      Major Depression: Also termed as major depressive disorder, this is the most severe category of depression. Major depression is characterized by a combination of symptoms that interfere with the ability to work, study, sleep, eat and enjoy once fond of activities. Most of the people have only one episode of major depression; however it may recur in some people. Symptoms of major depression include sadness, anxiety, irritability, loss of interest in favorite activities, withdrawal from social activities and inability to concentrate.

      Dysthymia: Dysthimia or dysthymic disorder is a chronic depression, but with less severity than major depression. A person with dysthymic disorder will probably lead a normal life, but may not be functioning well or feeling good. The essential symptom includes daily depressed mood for at least two hours. Some of the symptoms of dysthymia include low energy levels, sleep or appetite disturbances, and thoughts of death or suicide and low self-esteem. Some people with dysthymic disorder also experience major depression thus swinging between severe and mild depression levels. This is called as double depression.

      Psychotic Depression: This kind of depressive illness is accompanied by some form of psychosis, such as breaks with reality, hallucinations and delusions. Some of the symptoms include anxiety, agitation, insomnia, paranoia, physical immobility, intellectual impairment and psychosis.

      Postpartum Depression: Most of the new mothers experience postpartum depression within one month after delivery. It is estimated that 10 to 15 percent of women experience postpartum depression after giving birth.

      Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): As the name suggests this is a seasonal depressive disorder that occurs mostly in the start of winter when there is less sunlight. Mostly this kind of depressive disorder ends in spring or early summer. A rare form of SAD known as summer depression also occurs in late spring or early summer and ends in fall. Light therapy is often used to treat SAD; however, people who do not respond to light therapy alone are supplemented by psychotherapy and antidepressant medications.

      Bipolar Disorder: Also called as manic-depression or manic-depressive illness, is not as common as major depression or dysthymia. This kind of disorder is characterized by cycling mood changes from extreme highs (e.g., mania) to extreme lows (e.g., depression). These mood swings are rapid and dramatic, but are usually gradual. Symptoms of the depressed state are similar to a depressive disorder. A person in the manic state may be overactive, over talkative and have great deal of energy. Mania affects thinking, judgment and social behavior of the affected person. Mania, left untreated, may worsen to a psychotic state, where the person is out of touch with reality.

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      What Are the Symptoms of Dysthymia?

      Low, dark, or sad mood nearly every day for at least two hours is the main symptom of dysthymia. Others may include poor appetite or overeating, insomnia or hypersomnia, low energy or fatigue, low self-esteem, poor concentration, and feelings of hopelessness.

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      What Are the Diagnosis & Tests for Dysthymia?

      If you think you have dysthymia, discuss your concerns with your doctor. Your doctor will set up a personal interview with you and ask questions that would help him/her identify whether you have depression. Your doctor may ask you questions about your health and your symptoms, such as how well you're sleeping, are you feeling tired all of the time, and if you have trouble concentrating. Your doctor will also consider medical reasons that may cause you to feel depressed, such as problems with your thyroid or a certain medicine you may be taking.

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      What Are the Treatments Available for Dysthymia?

      Like other forms of depression, there are a number of treatment options for people with dysthymia. Antidepressants and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors such as fluoxetine (Prozac) are often used. Doctors might also prescribe talk therapies like cognitive/behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy that have shown to be effective in treating patients with dysthymia. Some evidence suggests the combination of medication and psychotherapy may result in the most improvement.

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      How Do You Cope Up with Dysthymia?

      You are not alone. Approximately 10.9 million people in USA suffer from Dysthymia. Use these tips to cope with dysthbymia.
      • Talk to your doctor about your symptoms of dysthymia.
      • Do activities that make you feel good like a pleasant drive, or watch a movie.
      • Eat a well balanced diet.
      • Relax yourself.
      • Learn to distress.
      • Avoid drugs and alcohol.
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      What Are the Ways to Prevent Dysthymia?

      Dysthymia is treatable provided proper medical attention is given at the right time. Following are certain tips that might help you prevent dysthymia or depression disorder.
      • In a stressful situation, slow down and take a deep breath. Deep breath will help you to relax.
      • Learn to balance between victory and loss. Agree that lose is part of life.
      • Reach out to people around you and accept help and support from others.
      • Accept that we can’t control everything around us.
      • Stop being so critical of yourself and others.
      • Take good care of yourself. Eat and sleep properly.
      • Exercise regularly.
      • Say nice things to yourself.
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      Self Care – The Bottom Line to Dysthymia

      Here are few simple, effective dysthimia self-care tips that can reduce dysthimic breakouts and control future breakouts.
      • Get plenty of sleep.
      • Get out of bed early in the morning.
      • Find positive outlets.
      • Think about happy thoughts.
      • Avoid poisonous people.
      • Cultivate intimacy.
      • Challenge depressed thinking.
      • Feel your feelings.
      • Establish priorities.
      • Understand the challenges.


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