What is dysthymia?

Dysthymia is a persistent depressive disorder; that is, a type of chronic, ongoing depression. It has similar but less intense features than major depression. As the patient feels a constant and lasting feeling of discouragement over time, it can affect social relationships and daily chores.

Dysthymia is a chronic depression.

Prognosis of the disease

Dysthymia can impair the patient’s quality of life, as it is chronic. Sometimes the patient may not be able to control the symptoms, and their situation may worsen. It is therefore important to receive appropriate treatment that allows you to control your emotional state.

Symptoms of dysthymia

The person with major depression usually loses interest in the activities of daily life. They often feel hopeless, unproductive and have low self-esteem. These feelings last for years and can affect social relationships, work and daily activities.

Also, the patient does not feel optimistic even in moments of happiness, which makes people consider him/her as pessimistic or negative and complains all the time. Therefore, the most common symptoms are:

  • Lack of interest in your daily chores.
  • Sadness and feeling of emptiness
  • Hopelessness
  • Lack of energy or excessive tiredness
  • Low self-esteem
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Easy irritability
  • Decreased efficiency, productivity and activity
  • Isolation or avoidance of social activities
  • Feelings of guilt and excessive worry about past events
  • Lack of hunger or, conversely, overeating
  • Insomnia

The fact that dysthymia is a chronic disorder means that coping with symptoms can be difficult in some patients, so appropriate therapy and treatment will be essential.

Medical tests for dysthymia

The basic test that will diagnose a case of dysthymia is a psychological evaluation. The patient with dysthymia has suffered from these feelings all his or her life, so he or she may think that they are already part of his or her life. However, if he/she has symptoms of permanent depressive disorder, he/she should seek help and consult a specialist in psychology or psychiatry.

First of all it will be important for the patient to explain his situation to his family doctor, or to consult a psychologist or psychiatrist directly. Sometimes it is difficult for the patient to go to them, so the support of someone close to him or her can help.

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What are the causes of dysthymia?

The causes of dysthymia can be diverse, although no single or exact cause is known:

  • Chemical processes in the brain. Neurotransmitters are natural substances in the brain that possibly play a role in depression. According to some studies, changes in the function and effect of these neurotransmitters, and how they interact with the neurocircuits responsible for maintaining emotional stability, may play an essential role in depression and how to treat it.
  • Heredity. Dysthymia appears to be more common in patients whose relatives also suffer from it.
  • Life events. It may be that traumatic events (loss of loved ones, money problems or high levels of stress), can cause dysthymia.
  • It is estimated that more than 75% of dysthymia sufferers have another chronic pathology.

Can it be prevented?

There is no 100% certainty that dysthymia can be prevented. It is a disorder that usually develops as early as childhood or adolescence, so identifying children who may suffer from depression is important. Symptoms can also be controlled:

  • Manage stress, thus increasing resilience and raising self-esteem.
  • Lean on friends and family, especially in times of crisis, so they can help.
  • Seek help and treatment at the onset of symptoms to prevent them from worsening.
  • Do not rule out the possibility of long-term treatment to avoid relapses.

Treatments for dysthymia

Treatments may be diverse but, first of all, the underlying causes that may be causing dysthymia should be studied. Cognitive-behavioral therapy and psychotherapy have been shown to be effective. Also support with medication, which will always be prescribed by a specialist.

The specialist should talk to the patient to study what worries him/her and tends to make him/her feel down, having negative thoughts. Psychological treatment will help the patient to better manage his emotions and feelings.

Which specialist treats it?

The specialist who treats dysthymia is the Psychologist or Psychiatrist. They will study the patient and establish the best treatment in each case, personalizing the therapy.