Because there are millions of people of all ages, lifestyles, and ethnic groups who suffer from depression on one level or another, a tremendous amount of time and money has been invested in finding a cure but also safe and effective treatments. Depression comes in many different forms, one known as Dysthymia. While this type can be challenging to live with, it is important to know that with the right dysthymia treatment, it is possible to get symptoms under control.
What is Dysthymia?
Before talking about treatments for this particular type of depression, we felt it important to provide a brief overview of Dysthymia. Although there are other more serious types of this mental health illness, Dysthymia typically produces much longer symptoms. For that reason alone, getting a proper diagnosis followed by effective treatment is imperative.
Since the effects of this form of depression last a long time, an individual would begin to experience serious challenges in daily life. An interesting fact is that of all forms of depression, symptoms of Dysthymia appear at a much longer age. In addition, the level of compromised daily function is more persistent.
For a diagnosis of Dysthymia to be made, symptoms would have to be present for a minimum of two years. In addition, an individual would have to present with at least two of the following symptoms:
o Insomnia or hypersomnia
o Sense of hopelessness
o Low self-esteem
o Under or over-eating
o Fatigue and/or low energy level
o Trouble with concentration and decision-making
Keep in mind that it is possible for a person to have both Dysthymia and major depression. In this case, the number and severity of symptoms would be magnified. Now, one difference with this type of depression is that performing daily tasks is possible although difficult. However, for someone to excel at something would be near impossible due to poor concentration, fatigue, low self-esteem, and decreased motivation.
Moving on, we want to address different options for Dysthymia treatment. It is important to note that a person should work closely with a doctor qualified in treating this form of depression. Even then, the right treatment would be unique to the individual in that everyone has a somewhat different experience with this illness. In fact, there are times when more than one treatment must be tried before the best one can be identified. In fact, many doctors will use a combination of treatments for the best results.
For Dysthymia, several options for psychotherapy would be considered. For the best method to be chosen, a mental health professional would determine the person’s current state of function, gather family and personal history regarding mental health issues, and in some instances, order that a series of medical tests be performed.
The primary type of therapy recommended is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. For this, the individual would work with a therapist in a comfortable environment on ways of identifying cognitive behavior and then making appropriate changes. Typically, addressing problems in short therapy sessions, during which time the main focus is on setting reasonable and attainable goals.
In addition to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, many people with dysthymia find group therapy also beneficial. If deemed beneficial, it might be recommended for both forms of therapy to be part of the overall Dysthymia treatment plan. Unlike one-on-one time with a therapy, a group setting provides a means of support and encouragement to the individual from other people who struggle with the same type of depression.
Another way of treating Dysthymia is with prescription medication. Usually, antidepressants such as Paxil, Zoloft, Luvox, and Prozac are prescribed, which boost serotonin levels within the brain. Since serotonin is the chemical that affects mood, a re-uptake inhibitor brings levels back in balance, which in turn reduces the effects of depression.
Of all the different treatment options, medication can be somewhat tricky since people respond in unique ways to medication. For that reason, a doctor would probably have to prescribe one to four different drugs before finding the right one. Even then, doses might need to be modified from time-to-time.
We also want to point out that regardless of the antidepressant medication being prescribed, it can take up to eight weeks for a beneficial level to build within the bloodstream. During this period, a person with Dysthymia would need to be patient and if needed, work with a mental health professional on short-term treatments that would help.
It has also been shown that certain self-help treatments work well for Dysthymia. Depending on the severity of the problem and the individual, self-help treatments might be used along with more conventional treatments initially. There are many options for self-help to include support groups found locally, books, online websites, and more. Of course, having the support of close family members and friends would be critical to recovery.
As part of self-help, an individual could consider various forms of alternative medicine. For instance, acupuncture, yoga, natural foods, supplements, daily exercise, and even home remedies could provide relief. The actual results would again depend on the specific Dysthymia treatment chosen and the person but for the most part, self-help has been proven beneficial.