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Mood Disorders

Dysthymic Disorder

Dysthymic Disorder is also known as chronic depression, dysthymia, and/or neurotic depression. It is a mood disorder, as listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health. Dr. Robert Spitzer, who wrote the third installment of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, gave it this name in the 70s. Before it was called “depressive personality”.

Signs

Dysthymic Disorder has the same symptoms as depression (low capacity for pleasure in everyday life, low self-esteem and low drive). Compared to depression, dysthymia symptoms last longer but are not as severe. An example of a mild case could be someone avoiding things that cause them stress or result in failure. An example of a severe case would be someone withdrawing from everyday life. Given the signs are usually so mild, dysthymic disorder is hard to detect. Also, it shares many similar symptoms to other mental illnesses (i.e. depression, bipolar disorder). Add on top of this that it generally co-occurs with other illnesses makes it even more hard to detect.

Causes

The cause of dysthymic disorder has not be proven to be biological. However, it is believed that it could have something to do with genetics, as families with a higher average of depression generally find members suffering from dysthymia. Another cause of dysthymic disorder could be the lack of social supports. As well, social isolation and stress are also believed to play roles in the cause of dysthymic disorder.

Management

If you want to be pre-emptive in managing dysthymic disorder the answer seems to lie in attacking it at a young age, as it seems to first appear in children. You could try to help your kids control their stress, help to boost their self-esteem and try to develop strong strong social supports for them.

There are a few types of therapy that seem to be effective when working with dysthymic disorder.

These are psychotherapy (both individual and group), interpersonal psychotherapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and psychodynamic psychotherapy.

As far as medications go, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) and antidepressents seem to work the best when trying to deal with dysthymia. Some of the regularly prescribed SSRI/antidepressants are fluoxetine, sertraline, fluvoxamine and paroxetine.

A combination of pre-emptive management, therapy and medication has shown to be the best form of management for someone with Dysthymic Disorder.

Prognosis

Arguably the worst outcome of having dysthymic disorder is the increased risk of suicide. It is important to monitor individuals suffering from this illness particularly for that reason. As mentioned earlier, dysthymic disorder can last for years. There are many people that recover completely from dysthymic disorder, however some continue to have symptoms after treatment. People with dysthymia should be monitored for major depression as they have the same symptoms and are known to co-occur. Dysthymia can also effect one’s employment or their studies, if their lust for life is lessened.

 

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