The Depression Series Part 2: Dysthymia 

This is the second post in the depression series which I have created as part of the mental health month. You can read my first post in this series here. This post will discuss Dysthymia and its symptoms. 

Dysthymia is a persistent depressive disorder (PDD) . Unlike major depression, dysthymia is much more subtle, although just as insidious. It can go on for years without being diagnosed or without the sufferer even realising that they have a mental disorder. It’s because dysthymia isn’t as full blown as major depression and therefore it is difficult to notice the symptoms. Many people who suffer from it believe that this is just their actual personality. Friends and family also just assume that they’re a irritable person by nature. 

Let us take a look at some of the symptoms of dysthymia, in order to understand it better:

  • Although they are able to go about their day to day activities and hobbies, they find no joy out of it. They find it difficult to be productive and often procrastinate to avoid responsibilities. This isn’t out of a general feeling of laziness that we all experience, but it is because of a void that they feel within themselves that puts them off from doing anything which would give anyone else a sense of satisfaction or contentness. 
  • Being around friends and family can feel mentally draining. They usually prefer to be alone as much as possible. 
  • Feeling down and upset for no apparent reason, frequently. Feelings of worthlessness, helplessness and a ‘never being good enough’ mentality are always prominent thoughts in their minds. They are usually pessimistic towards their outlook on life. 
  • A low appetite or overeating (comfort eating). 
  • Low energy, such as feeling tired most of the times, regardless of the amount of rest and sleep they have had. 
  • Low self esteem and confidence.
  • Irritability and an excessive amount of anger.
  • Difficulty with focus and experiencing forgetfulness often. They usually find it difficult to make decisions. 

Dysthymia can be caused by traumatic events just like major depression. However it is also possible to have it through genetics. Someone is more likely to develop dysthymia if it is in the family. And just how I mentioned earlier, it can go years undiagnosed. It can also fluctuate, where at times the symptoms may be more subtle, it can then spiral and cause major depression. This is known as double depression; when dysthymia is already present, and they also get major depression at the same time. 

Just like all forms of mental illness, dysthymia can be successfully treated through different forms of therapy such as counselling and cognitive behavioural therapy. If you have these symptoms, or think you may be suffering from dysthymia, then please reach out and get the help you need. Please also share your experiences with depression and dysthymia in the comments section below. 


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