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Dysthymia is a continuous long-term form of depression. The symptoms of the disorder usually come and go over a period that spans several years; remember that their intensity can change over time. The disorder disturbs the mood and thoughts of an individual, making it a mood disorder. Furthermore, the disorder affects the way a person functions, views the world, and feels about themselves. It is a chronic mental illness, and has the tendency to affect a person in all areas of his/her life.
Symptoms of persistent depressive disorder can cause significant impairment and may include:
Because of the chronic nature of the illness, the symptoms may last for years and significantly interfere with relationships, occupation, social and daily activities. The longevity of the symptoms makes it important for a person to go for treatment.
No known cause has been found as yet in scientific research, but there is a presence of collective reasons behind the development of the illness in a person.
Some of the causes are discussed below:
1. Chemical imbalance in the brain, which means the neurotransmitters and hormones whose function lies in balancing emotions and feelings are secreted in an abnormal range.
2. Family history of the condition is essential too. The presence of a psychiatric illness in the family leaves the next generation at a higher risk of developing a psychological illness.
3. History of other mental health conditions, such as anxiety or bipolar disorder, or having a severe psychological illness impacts the psyche of a person. This exhausts the coping skills of an individual at a faster pace. In such a case, presence of a co-morbid condition is quite common.
4. Stressful or traumatic life events, such as the loss of a loved one or financial problems – or any other traumatic event has the capacity to hit a person deeply on an emotional level. This disturbs the balance of stress and coping. Excessive stress leads to secretion of unwanted hormones in the body.
5. Chronic physical illness, such as heart disease or diabetes or cancer – a major medical illness is likely to bring high levels of stress in an individual. Constant stress is unhealthy for any individual.
6. Physical brain trauma, such as a concussion – this may bring changes in the anatomy of a normal brain and may release excessive hormones proven harmful for the emotional balance of the individual.
Dysthymia, being a chronic form of psychological illness, with severe collection of symptoms, requires a combination of talk therapy (psychotherapy) and medication to be effective.
This is a beneficial treatment option to understand the cognitive aspect of the disorder. It is found to be helpful in multiple ways:
Making certain lifestyle adjustments can complement medical treatments and help ease symptoms. These remedies include:
Identify triggers and use your coping mechanism to combat stress, leading to increased resilience and boost self-esteem:
Dysthymia is not the same as being unhappy or in a “blue” mood, neither is it a sign of weakness. People with such severe conditions can’t simply “snap out of it” and get better. It’s always a good idea to seek professional support, and not wait until you hit rock bottom. Psychological and psychiatric intervention can really help people overcome it. Waiting for help may worsen the condition, so it is better to seek help, as soon as possible. All it takes is the willingness and right kind of support to move towards a better life.