The word dysthymia is also known as persistent depressive disorder (PDD) and is a form of chronic depression. Similar to other types of depression, dysthymia is a continuous feeling of deep sadness and hopelessness affecting the mood and behavior as well as physical functions, including impairment in appetite and sleep. People with this disorder often lose interest in doing activities they once used to enjoyed and have difficulty in finishing daily tasks.
The exact cause of dysthymia is unknown, but few combinations of factors like genetics can play a role, people with a family history of depression or dysthymia are more prone to it in early age. Changes are chemical messengers (neurotransmitters) in the brain may also lead to dysthymia. Medical illness or chronic stress, social isolation and thoughts and perceptions about the whole world, may influence the development of dysthymia.
SYMPTOMS AND COMPLICATIONS
The symptoms include depressed mood for a prolonged period of time, low energy, tiredness, low self-esteem, change in appetite, irregularities in sleep pattern, difficulty in concentration or poor concentration and hopelessness. The severity of these symptoms depends upon each individual. Some can deal with the basic demands of life, while others may go under significant distress, leading to difficulty in coping with life at work, school or social situations.
A person is diagnosed as having chronic depression if he is suffering for at least two years, along with having low energy, tiredness, low self-esteem, sleep irregularities, poor concentration with changes in appetite and hopelessness. Doctors will also rule out any other medical or mental health conditions such as thyroids problems or anxiety or anemia. A patient may not think they themselves are depressed and most of the time visits a physician for physical complaints rather than psychological complaints. Mental health professionals are only consulted when more obvious symptoms are noticed. If it goes undiagnosed, there is always a danger of substance abuse or even suicide.
TREATMENT AND PREVENTION
Depression and dysthymia in India are treated with a similar approach. The most effective line of treatment is a combination of strategies. Antidepressant medications may be used in the treatment of dysthymia such as selective reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) example fluoxetine, fluvoxamine, citalopram. Short term psychotherapeutic approaches to treat dysthymia are more effective at treating the symptoms of depression. Effective psychotherapy includes cognitive behavioral psychotherapy, peer support, and interpersonal psychotherapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) helps the individual to understand how their thoughts affect feelings and how feelings affect their behavior. Interpersonal therapy (IT) is about focusing on the problems with personal relationships with others or surroundings. Group therapy may also manage and helps to treat dysthymia.
Lifestyle changes are a must like exercising at least three times per week, avoiding alcohol and drugs, eating healthy and nutritious food like fruits and fresh vegetables, practicing yoga or meditation, building on new coping skills, expanding the skill set and develop new, healthier social relationships.