Sunday, September 12

All about the low-grade depression (dysthymia)

Dysthymia is the term for this condition, which frequently remains undetected and hence undiagnosed and untreated.

Every everyone, at some time in their life, will experience depression. You may be lacking in energy, having difficulty sleeping, or simply feeling lousy. The sensation frequently passes, or it comes and goes, but does not appear to be a cause for alarm. However, if these blue sensations persist, they may be a sign of dysthymia or low-grade depression. While dysthymia is a less severe form of depression, it should be taken carefully.

It is difficult to Diagnosis

Dysthymia can manifest itself in brief bouts separated by significant time intervals. You may have dysthymia if your gloomy mood is present on a greater number of days than not, lasts more than two years without an interruption of at least two months, and is accompanied by some of the following symptoms:

overeating or loss appetite
weight fluctuations (gain or loss of more than 5 per cent within a month)
Insomnia or excessive sleep
exhaustion or depletion of energy
self-esteem deficit
despair or guilt
dissatisfaction with preferred hobbies
Having difficulty concentrating or making judgments.

Dysthymia is difficult to diagnose since warning signals sometimes resemble those associated with ordinary life or ageing. By definition, older men face a variety of factors that might induce dysthymia, including physical difficulties, social isolation, and new medicines. Even a severe cold or a slight injury might trigger an attack. "However, males make the mistake of believing that the reason they feel sad is temporary and will resolve on its own," Dr Mischoulon explains. Men, he says, may also be more hesitant to acknowledge they are sad. "They are uncomfortable discussing their sentiments and are fearful of being perceived as weak."

Dysthymia, if left untreated, can manifest itself in a variety of aspects of your life. For example, you may be unable to develop enduring friendships or sexual connections, and your job may suffer as a result.

In terms of health, dysthymia has been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and may worsen pre-existing illnesses such as hypertension and diabetes. Additionally, it might raise your risk of getting persistent depression. Indeed, evidence indicates that up to 75% of persons diagnosed with dysthymia will experience a severe depressive episode.

Increase your awareness

The first step toward therapy, according to Dr Mischoulon, is to detect the symptoms. Naturally, self-analysis may be difficult—some individuals are more conscious of their changing emotions than others—which is why you may want support.

Enlist the assistance of a friend, spouse, or family to provide feedback if they detect any symptoms or changes in your behaviour. "So frequently, we are better at identifying issues in other people than in ourselves," Dr Mischoulon explains.

According to him, dysthymia is quite responsive to antidepressants and psychotherapy (talk therapy) used to treat persistent depression. Consult your physician about the best course of action for you, or request a referral to a mental health professional.

"Under no circumstances should you attempt to manage your dysthymia on your own," Dr Mischoulon advises, "since this frequently results in insufficient therapy and risks aggravating your depression."

A three-step procedure for treating dysthymia

Although no one treatment is effective for everyone, many persons with dysthymia benefit from psychotherapy (talk therapy), antidepressants, or a combination of the two. Three phases of treatment are frequently used: acute, continuation, and maintenance.

The acute phase's objective is to alleviate your symptoms. This often occurs between four to eight weeks but may take longer depending on your reaction to the first therapy (s).

Continuation phase: During this phase, you will work closely with your physician to maximize your progress. Additional treatment modifications, such as adjusting the drug dosage or the duration of therapy sessions, may be beneficial. This process may take between four and five months.

Once your mood is stabilized, the objective is to avoid dysthymia from re-emerging. Ongoing therapy is frequently essential, especially if you have had many episodes or have risk factors for recurrence.
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