Dysthymia is a mild depression. Dysthymia is feeling sad, uninterested, or hopeless almost every day. You may lack interest in life and activities, or always feel down on yourself. In adults, it may last for 2 years or more. In children, it lasts more than 1 year.
Dysthymia usually starts gradually. It can begin in childhood, but usually starts when you are a teenager or young adult. About 6% of Americans have it sometime in their lives. You are more likely to develop it if you have a family member who has had some form of depression. Women are 2 to 3 times more likely to get dysthymia than men.
Besides feeling somewhat sad and uninterested in things, you may also:
Your healthcare provider or a mental health therapist will ask about your symptoms and any drug or alcohol use. You may have lab tests to rule out medical problems such as hormone imbalances.
Do not try to overcome dysthymia by yourself. Depression is a physical illness as well as a psychological one. Do not expect yourself to "snap out of it." It can be successfully treated with psychotherapy, antidepressant medicine, or both. Talk with your healthcare provider or therapist about this.
Antidepressant medicines can help treat dysthymia. Your healthcare provider will work with you to carefully select one for you.
You must take these medicines daily for 3 to 6 weeks to get full benefit from them. Most people benefit most from taking these medicines for at least 6 months.
No nonprescription medicines are available to treat depression.
Seeing a mental health therapist is helpful. You may need therapy for a very short time or for many months. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that helps you identify and change thought processes. Replacing negative thoughts with more positive ones can help your depression.
Claims have been made that many herbal and dietary products help depression. Omega-3 fatty acids may help to reduce symptoms of depression. St. John's wort can help mild symptoms of depression. It will not help severe cases of depression.
Be careful which products you use. "Natural" products are not standardized. They may have different strengths and effects. Some may be contaminated. Herbs and supplements affect your body and may interact with prescription medicines. Talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist about any supplements that you are using or considering.
Dysthymia can go on for years. Seek professional help to overcome or reduce the symptoms.
Certain medicines such as Accutane, Lariam, Levaquin, benzodiazepines, digitalis, and beta blockers can add to the symptoms of depression. Be sure that your healthcare provider knows about all of the medicines, vitamins and supplements you are taking.
Do not try to overcome dysthymia by yourself. Seek professional help if you believe that you or a loved one has symptoms of depression.
Get emergency care if you or a loved one have serious thoughts of suicide or harming others.