Oh boy. I found out today there may be something else wrong with me!
If you’ve been following my blog recently, you know I’ve been on about my bout with severe depression.
What is this other condition, as identified in a independent medical evaluation? Dysthymia.
Here’s a dysthmyia definition from PubHealth, a website produced by the U.S . National Institute of Health:
Dysthymia is a chronic type of depression in which a person’s moods are regularly low. However, symptoms are not as severe as with major depression.
That being said, …
About half of people with dysthymia will also have an episode of major depression at some point in their lives.
The Greek word dysthymia means “bad state of mind” or “ill humor.” As one of the two chief forms of clinical depression, it usually has fewer or less serious symptoms than major depression but lasts longer. The American Psychiatric Association defines dysthymia as depressed mood most of the time for at least two years, along with at least two of the following symptoms: poor appetite or overeating; insomnia or excessive sleep; low energy or fatigue; low self-esteem; poor concentration or indecisiveness; and hopelessness.
Dysthymia and major depression naturally have many symptoms in common, including depressed mood, disturbed sleep, low energy, and poor concentration. There are also parallel symptoms: poor appetite, low self-esteem, and hopelessness in dysthymia, corresponding to the more severe symptoms of weight change, excessive guilt, and thoughts of death or suicide in major depression. Major depression may also include two symptoms not found in the standard definition of dysthymia: anhedonia (inability to feel pleasure) and psychomotor symptoms (chiefly lethargy or agitation). An episode of major depression requires at least five symptoms instead of three, but it need last only two weeks rather than two years.
Dysthymia is a serious disorder. It is not “minor” depression, and it is not a condition intermediate between severe clinical depression and depression in the casual colloquial sense. In some cases it is more disabling than major depression. Still, dysthymia is so similar to major depression that the American Psychiatric Association’s diagnostic manual also suggests, as a possibility for further investigation, an alternative definition with symptoms including anhedonia, social withdrawal, guilt, and irritability but not appetite or sleep disturbance. The purpose is to distinguish dysthymia more clearly from major depression by emphasizing mood and personal relations over physical symptoms.
The Harvard article goes on to say this:
More than half of people with dysthymia eventually have an episode of major depression, and about half of patients treated for major depression are suffering from this double depression. Many patients who recover partially from major depression also have milder symptoms that persist for years. This type of chronic depression is difficult to distinguish from dysthymia.
For years, you say? Oh boy.
Hopefully that won’t be me.
Read both articles if you want more information on this condition.This page from CAMH introduces you to the different kinds of depressive illnesses, including dysthymia.
If you know of some useful links, please leave them in a comment below.