Dysthymic Disorder: When Sadness Becomes Chronic

If there is a history of dysthymia in the family, the chances of suffering from it are higher. In this case it is best to take some precautions and talk to your doctor.
Dysthymic disorder: when sadness becomes chronic

What is dysthymic disorder? We all know what it means to go through a bad time, when pain and negative thoughts force us to reprogram many aspects of life. Sometimes the simple fact of experiencing such phases is a way to learn, to acquire new strategies to be applied in the future.

But what if sadness were to be constant in our life? What happens if this inner malaise, pain and discomfort do not disappear, but we carry them with us day after day ? In this case, we could talk about dysthymia or dysthymic disorder, which differs from depression in certain aspects that are worth knowing.

Read on to learn how to recognize this mood disorder.

What is dysthymia?

Woman with worried expression

Dysthymia or dysthymic disorder is a form of depression characterized by important affective and emotional symptoms. In the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders  (DSM-V) it is classified as “persistent depressive disorder”. Let’s see the main characteristics of dysthymia:

  • It is a  constant feeling  of sadness and despair. There are no better or worse times; usually this negative emotional feeling lasts more than two years.
  • This disorder is almost never linked to “external factors”, that is to say, disappointments or emotional losses are not necessary to fall into this form of depression. The origin is organic and almost always hereditary. It mainly affects women.
  • It usually appears around 21 years of age.
  • In severe cases, the patient is totally unable to take care of himself and needs daily assistance to eat, sit, etc.
  • Although there is a hereditary component, stress usually makes this feeling of discomfort much worse, so much so as to bring the disorder to its most severe stage.
  • Sadness is accompanied by bad mood, fatigue, insomnia, eating disorders and difficulty concentrating.
  • If dysthymia is not treated in time, it can lead to “major depression”, which is an even more serious mental disorder accompanied by symptoms such as anger, rage and even suicide attempts. It is very dangerous, which is why it is important to cure this type of pathology in time.

How is dysthymic disorder treated?

sad girl

First of all, it is necessary to clarify that dysthymic disorder is a pathology that must be managed and addressed throughout the life span. Can we still enjoy a good quality of life day after day? Yes, it is possible, but some precautions are necessary:

  • Antidepressant drugs.
  • Behavioral and cognitive psychotherapy sessions, and group meetings.
  • Periodic medical assistance throughout life.
  • Social (friends, relatives) and personal support and comfort.

A hereditary disease

We must keep in mind that the origin of this disorder is hereditary, therefore organic. There is almost always an alteration in the serotonin neurotransmitters . This means that the drugs will be effective and that, no doubt, psychological therapy will be of great help. However, these treatments and therapies will need to be followed throughout your life.

In this way, people with dysthymia will be able to enjoy life day after day, go to work, fulfill their dreams and achieve their goals.

People diagnosed with dysthymia need to be aware of the problem and understand what’s going on. It is, as we have said, a disease that must always be kept under control; It is especially important to identify and manage sources of stress and anxiety as they can make symptoms worse.

Golden tears

If there is a history of dysthymia in the family, the chances of suffering from it are higher. In this case it is best to take some precautions and talk to your doctor.

Let’s recall the main differences between dysthymia and depression:

  • Dysthymia appears around the age of 21 or even earlier, and is a state of permanent sadness, without there being any objective reasons to trigger this emotion, this despondency.
  • It lasts for a year and a half, or two years, and if not treated in time, it can lead to more severe depression accompanied by suicide attempts. 

Don’t forget it.

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