What is dysthymia? This is a mood disorder characterized by chronic or long-term depression and often accompanied by other symptoms such as eating and sleeping disturbances. Persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia) – or dysthymic disorder as it may also be referred to – can significantly affect your daily life.
Find out more about causes, symptoms and potential solutions here…
Dysthymia vs depression – dysthymia and depression have many symptoms in common including depressed mood, poor concentration, and sleep disturbance. Poor appetite and hopelessness in dysthymia correspond to weight change and suicidal thoughts in major depression.
However, major depression includes the inability to feel pleasure and lethargy alongside agitation. And an episode will be diagnosed with at least five symptoms that last for two weeks rather than two years.
In dysthymia, a serious state of chronic depression lasts for at least two years, making diagnosis difficult. Although not as severe as major depressive disorder, dysthymia can affect children, adolescents, and adults.
For children and teens to be diagnosed with this illness they must experience a depressed mood or irritability nearly every day – for most of the day – for at least one year. Adults must experience this for two or more years.
Causes of Dysthymia
Dysthymia causes are primarily unknown but may result from more than one cause. A number of brain regions are implicated with a chemical imbalance and physical changes within the brain itself. Physical brain trauma such as concussion may also contribute to the development of the condition.
Family history and inherited traits increase the potential for dysthymia as certain genes may be responsible for causing depression. And a history of other mental conditions can also play a part.
Traumatic life events like financial problems, work issues, or the death of a family member, friend, or pet can also trigger the depression. And chronic physical illness including heart disease is another factor that needs to be considered.
Symptoms of Dysthymia
Dysthymia symptoms include:
- Anger or irritability
- Fatigue and low energy
- Feeling inadequate, hopeless, or guilty
- Having low self-esteem
- Insomnia or excessive sleeping
- Issues with work due to problems with concentration and making decisions
- Losing interest in normal everyday activities
- Poor appetite or overeating causing major weight gain
- Problems with learning and education
- Relationship difficulties
Traditional Ways for Overcoming Dysthymia
Alongside the treatment recommended by a healthcare professional that may consist of medication and talk therapy, there are a number of options that a person with dysthymia can try to help improve their condition.
There are different kinds of psychotherapy available with options including family, group, and process-oriented talk therapy. Seeing a therapist will help you learn how to:
- Identify triggers and manage them with coping strategies
- Set realistic goals and attain them
- Express feelings and thoughts in a healthy manner
- Understand the mood disorder
- Improve self-esteem
- Identify negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones
- Find ways to build positive relationships
Support therapy offers education about the disorder and provides advice and reassurance. Cognitive therapy identifies thought patterns that promote self-defeating attitudes – and corrects them. Behavioral treatment improves social skills and teaches ways to manage stress. And psychodynamic therapy helps resolve emotional conflicts.
Other strategies that may help with control include regulating stress levels, asking for help from family and friends, getting treatment at the earliest sign of a problem, and considering long-term maintenance treatment to help prevent relapses.
Changes in Lifestyle
Dysthymia treatment without medication needs a long-term plan. Dysthymia natural treatment should be discussed with your health care professional who knows your formal diagnosis and medications you may be taking.
Taking supplements including St John’s wort and fish oil that help to improve moods, and reduce anxiety and insomnia. Folic acid and vitamin B12 have proven to be useful in improving depressive outcomes. And Traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic Medicine with different herbal combinations is a very promising approach based on existing research.
A spiritual retreat in nature with yoga and meditation – Forest bathing, staying in nature, practicing yoga and meditation are all known to be traditional and effective ways for improving mood and overall health. The Spirit Vine ayahuasca retreats in Brazil include these activities and also workshops where you can learn techniques to find the underlying causes of your symptoms and effective ways to overcome them. Ayahuasca is known for its ability to clearing blockages and improving mood disorders by discovering the source of problems and making permanent changes in lifestyle.
Eating a diet based on fruit and vegetables that supports your mental health, reduces inflammation, and keeps your body healthy will help to significantly achieve remission from depressive symptoms. A Mediterranean diet that avoids refined cereals, fast food, and processed meats are recommended.
Avoiding alcohol and drugs will ensure that the strong link between these substances and depression will be avoided. They may temporarily relax the body and relieve stress but the cycle of alcohol or drug dependence and depression needs to be broken to combat dysthymia symptoms.
Exercising at least three times a week as structured exercise can help to relieve symptoms of depression – resulting in an uplifted mood. This can result in reducing symptoms of depression in the short term, and having longer-lasting overall health benefits.
Aromatherapy and the massage that can help lower stress levels – inhalation of essential oils such as rose and lavender can significantly reduce pain and depression.