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Chronic Depression

Chronic depression, also known as dysthymia depression (dysthymic disorder), is considered a low grade or mild depression with symptoms not severe enough to meet the criteria of major depression but what dysthymia lacks in intensity it makes up for in duration.


Lifetime prevalence in the general population is estimated to affect around 3-5% of the general population with women 2-3 times more likely to develop this disorder than men with the disorder beginning in childhood, adolescence, or early adulthood and although symptoms resemble those of clinical depression they are less disabling.


Those with dysthymia unlike those with clinical depression are still capable of day to day functioning when suffering from depression, although they don't function as well as before the depression began.  They can go to work, school or even force a smile when socializing but often feel they are just going through the motions, feel tired, that everything is an effort, have low self esteem and experience little joy in life and feel chronically sad.

Undiagnosed and untreated this form of depression can persist for year or decades (although there maybe short intervening periods of feeling well) and because of its insidious onset those with chronic depression often believe their low moods to be part of their character rather than a depressive disorder or can't identify when the depression began or when they last felt happy.

To add insult to injury those with this depression have an increased risk of developing a major depression on top of dysthymic depression known as a 'double depression.'  Those with long term depression are also more inclined to abuse alcohol or drugs in an effort to lift their low moods which over time only intensifies their depression or leads to family, work, and social or additional health problems.

Diagnosing and Treating Dsythymia:

A formal diagnosis of dysthymia requires a low mood to be present more days than not over a period of two years (one year for children and adolescents) combined with at least two of the following symptoms:

  • Loss of appetite or increase in appetite

  • Changes in sleeping habits and sleeping to much or to little

  • Feeling fatigued with low energy or slowed down

  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions

  • Loss of self-esteem

  • Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness


Since dsythymia is a long term depression  it often requires long term treatment with antidepressant drugs the method of choice by most mental health care providers.  Antidepressant pills do however have some unpleasant side effects and are not effective for everyone.

Antidepressant side effects short term (depending on the antidepressant prescribed) may include dry mouth, blurred vision, constipation, Gastrointestinal disturbance/diarrhea, sedation, sleep disruption, headaches and nausea and although many of these symptoms clear up within a short period of time the long term side effect such as weight gain, sexual dysfunction or emotional numbness may continue until a antidepressant is discontinued and these side effects are a common reason for non-compliance and a patient stopping their medication.


One alternative form of treatment that studies have shown to benefit those with mild or moderate depression are natural antidepressants.  These natural supplements include St John's Wort and 5-HTP are affordable, largely side effect free and can be easily purchased from health food stores without prescription.

In addition to either conventional or natural remedies for depression, short term counselling or talk therapy should also be considered and can supply strategies for dealing with lives ups and downs.  Finally life style change involving diet and exercise can have a huge impact on chronic depression and go along way to lifting symptoms of depression and help you get you're life back on track.


Depression Counselling online
 
 

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