Dysthymia – a form of low grade depression – can be just as debilitating in its own way, as a major depressive disorder.
There are always times in life when daily stressors and challenges can lead to low mood and feelings of unhappiness.
It’s common to feel that these moods do not warrant a trip to the doctor, so many people just soldier on for as long as they can, hoping that the low mood will eventually lift.
The dysthymia sufferer may also feel okay at some time in the day, however for the most part the day just seems “flat”. Other people may notice, commenting or ask if things are alright. Even though the sufferer tries to pick themselves up, there is an overwhelming sense that there is no enjoyment in life.
Chronic, persistent low mood over a long period of time, or dysthymia, is a form of low grade depression. Feeling low on a day to day basis is cause for concern. Chronic depression may not feel as intense as an acute depressed mood; however it can still have a significant impact on your life.
Changes in quality of life, coping style, the way we perceive stress, and the way our body physiology works, may perpetuate the illness and lead to the development of major depression and other disorders.
Alternatively, chronic low mood may develop after an episode of depression or other illness. Either way, there is help available. You do not have to suffer on just because you don’t have a major depression.
Symptoms of Dysthymia
Some of the common signs and symptoms of dysthymia include:
- Depressed mood for most of the day;
- Poor appetite or overeating;
- Low energy or fatigue;
- Low self-esteem;
- Poor concentration or difficulty making decisions;
- Feelings of hopelessness.
There may be other reasons why you are feeling this way, and you may also feel that this is just part of who you are. That is okay, and there are still ways you might manage the moods more effectively so that you can get more out of life.
Treatment can Help!
How you cope socially and in your job may be affected by dysthymia, although this varies greatly from person to person. If your symptoms are persistent it may be worthwhile talking to a psychologist to find out how to manage these difficulties.
It’s important to remember that if left untreated, dysthymia may lead to more complex issues, and therapy can be tailored to accommodate your needs and prevent further problems from developing.
After correct diagnosis by a psychologist or psychiatrist, treatment for dysthymia can be tailored to your needs. Interventions are based on best available evidence, integrated with individual client characteristics, culture and preferences. The aim of therapy is to improve symptoms and your quality of life.
As dysthymia is a long term problem, therapy may continue for several weeks to months, and may include some elements of behavioural, cognitive (thinking), interpersonal and lifestyle interventions.
If you believe you may have other health problems and also experience symptoms of dysthymia, you should consult your doctor to rule out other health issues prior to making an appointment with a psychologist. Your doctor will do a thorough history, examination and any appropriate testing before providing a referral to a mental health practitioner.
Author: Mia Olsson, BA Psych (Hons), Dip Nurs, AMAPS.
Registered Psychologist Mia Olsson has had a broad interdisciplinary role in the health industry for over thirty years, including hospital-based nurse training, and an Honours Degree majoring in Psychology completed in 1990. She has a particular interest in assisting clients with depressive disorders, anxiety, acute and chronic complex trauma, and health related issues.
To make an appointment with Psychologist Mia Olsson, try Online Booking – Loganholme or call M1 Psychology (Loganholme) on (07) 3067 9129.
- American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Washington, DC.
- American Psychological Association. (2005). Policy statement on evidence-based practice in psychology. 2005 Presidential task force on Evidence-Based Practice.
- Australian Psychological Society. (2010). Evidence-based Psychological Interventions in the Treatment of Mental Disorders (3rd ed.).
- Trivedi, J. K., & Kar, S. (2011). Focus issues in dysthymia. Neuropsychiatry, 1(3), 291-297. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.2217/npy.11.23.
The information on this topic page is NOT a substitute for proper diagnosis, treatment or the provision of advice by an appropriate health professional.