Dysthymia is a chronic form of depression milder than major depression. A person with dysthymia is in a depressed mood most of the day and more days than not over a period of at least two years. There may be periods when a person feels normal, but such times last maybe a month of two.
Because the onset of symptoms is subtle, like a slippery slope, dysthymia often goes unnoticed. And being a chronic condition, a person may come to believe that he/she has always been that way.
The symptoms are similar to major depression but not to such a heightened degree. For example,
a person with dysthymia may experience a loss of appetite where a person with major depression may loathe food and lose weight at a rate of up to five pounds a week to start, lessening as his/her weight becomes lower and lower. Or a person with dysthymia may lose interest in attending social gatherings; whereas a person with major depression may become a recluse with even friends and family.
However, it is important to treat dysthymia instead of thinking of it as a minor condition because not doing so places people at increased risk of eventually developing major depression. In fact, about 10 percent of those with dysthymia have recurring bouts of major depression, a condition known as double depression.
Friends, it is not natural to be depressed, and it puts a stress on your body that will take its toll one way or the other – either in major depression, a heart condition, or cancer, to name a few. Medication may not be needed for dysthymia (or it might be needed), but psychotherapy and tapping into your spiritual well-being are strategies that should be implemented. For the body, vigorous exercise, or exercise of any kind, releases endorphins that act as mood stabilizers.
Whatever you do, don’t do it on your own. Get help. There are many tools available to help you triumph over depression. I have mentioned many of them in this blog over the months. Check the archives.