A disease well known as depressive neurosis, exogenous depression, transient mood disorder or dysthymic disorder, dysthymia is expressed in chronic mood deterioration, with characteristics similar to major depressive disorder, although to a much less serious extent.
In fact, there are many differences from the so-called melancholic depression or severe depression. Thus, severe depression is caused by biological causes, whereas dysthymia is specifically linked to a person’s past and how they managed to survive their life experience.
Transient Mood Disorder
It is estimated that about 5% of the world’s population suffer from dysthymia, and it is most common in adult women under 64 years of age.
This chronic emotional disorder lasts at least 2 years in older people, and 1 year in adolescents and children. There are two subtypes: a subtype called an early age dysthymia, which is specific for people under 21 years old, and an older age dysthymia, which manifests itself after 21 years.
As a rule, in the medical history of a patient suffering from dysthymia, there are negative experiences from childhood caused by emotional shocks such as rejection or death of parents, a feeling of abandonment associated with the lack of empathy, parenting with excessive demands from parents or based on violence or indifference, among other unfavorable situations.
This type of extreme situations generates a high level of danger, feelings of loneliness and helplessness in a young individual, and serves as a factor contributing to the development of the clinical picture of dysthymia associated with the form of perception and comprehension of past experience.
Patients with dysthymia believe that feeling sad is normal, being unable to imagine that another life is possible. Moreover, the environment of such a person also perceives their condition as something natural. Their mood has always been bad since adolescence, and they get used to living with it.
As patients with dysthymia grow older, they begin to reflect and think that something is wrong in their life. Gradually, they come to the conclusion that for a long time they were deprived of joyful moments and were alienated from friendly relations, life was empty and lonely.
And at such a moment, the patient comes to a medical specialist, who diagnoses dysthymia. In some cases, the person afflicted with this disease never manages to identify the problem, and they do not receive help throughout their whole life.
Symptoms of Dysthymia
With dysthymia, there is a state of chronic sadness, with variable intensification from time to time. In addition, the patient has no interest in performing their daily activities, they feel fatigue, weakness and lack of energy, experience a feeling of intense sadness or loneliness, despair, there are signs of depression, low self-esteem and excessive self-criticism or intolerance towards themselves.
Dysthymia sufferers have difficulties with analytical thinking, concentration and decision-making. A person looks irritable or very angry, the level of their ability to work and productivity decreases, as a result, they are isolated from society.
Feelings of guilt and anxiety from the past burden the patient with this disorder. Hence there are problems with sleep and diet, expressed in loss of appetite or vice versa, excessive increase in appetite.
Other signs associated with dysthymia may include:
- Inability to enjoy the positive moments in life.
- Problems with the performance of daily chores, it requires incredible effort.
- Reduced mental performance.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Dysthymia
After a thorough psychiatric examination and analysis of the patient’s medical history conducted by a psychiatrist, it is possible to diagnose the disorder and determine the most appropriate subsequent treatment.
As we have already noted, dysthymia is usually confused with severe depression, and it turns out that patients with dysthymia are prescribed medication, which gives no result.
Dysthymia is partially amenable to antidepressants, and its treatment should go simultaneously, in parallel with psychotherapy sessions.
There is a known case when a psychiatrist increased the dose or prescribed an additional drug, which caused serious side effects, without improving the patient’s condition. Before that, the specialist believed that he was dealing with resistant depression, and the patient lost faith in the treatment.
Often, poor training of psychotherapists leads them to the biological causes of the formation of the clinical picture. Hence, an erroneous diagnosis is made, as in the case of resistant depression, which is being treated with a bunch of medications.
It is very important to understand that the treatment of a patient with dysthymia should be supplemented with sessions of specialized psychotherapy, provided that the correct diagnosis is mandatory in order to choose the most appropriate treatment in each case.
Therefore, the most effective treatment for dysthymia is considered to be a combination of antidepressants like serotonin re-uptake inhibitors together with sessions of behavioral, cognitive, interpersonal and group psychotherapy.
In the absence of adequate treatment, dysthymia tends to develop into severe depression, which is called double depression .
If you have symptoms that can be attributed to dysthymia, do not delay seeking medical help. Go to your trusted specialist and share your doubts; you can also go directly to a psychiatrist or any other mental health specialist and ask to assess your clinical condition.