Have you even been accused of being a 'downer' or a 'pessimist'? Have you resigned yourself to having a maudlin personality, despite all attempts to be otherwise? You may be surprised to find that your depressive traits are not simply a part of your individual makeup, but a medical condition that can be easily treated. If the following apply to you, a visit to your medical practitioner is strongly recommended.
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About Dysthymic Disorder
Once known as 'depressive personality', dysthymic disorder is a real condition affecting the brain chemistry that is believed to be largely genetic in nature. A serious illness but not as severe as major depressive episodes, dysthymic disorder has all the hallmarks of traditional depression but with less intensity and over a longer period of time. For example, the minimum length of time an individual suffers is two years but some cases can begin in childhood and last a lifetime. Those that suffer from dysthymic disorder without taking advantage of treatment can learn over time to adapt and survive despite the constant struggle they endure.
Treatment of Dysthymic Disorder
As previously mentioned, many people who suffer from this condition do so in silence. They are still able to function in society and as a result, often develop coping strategies to help them 'sleepwalk' through their lives. Friends and relatives may not even be aware of this condition as for many; it appears the individual is just a 'depressing' person to be around. This may make it difficult to identify individuals who have the disorder.
After a diagnosis is made, doctors may have patients sample a variety of medications until the most effective is discovered. SSRI medications are usually the first choice due to their low side effects when compared with traditional depression treatments. The patient will usually know right away whether the medication is tolerated, but it can take up to eight weeks for the drug to take effect.
Cognitive behavioural therapy and psychotherapy have proven to be very useful for those suffering with dysthymic disorder. By working with mental health professionals on a regular basis, patients can learn excellent coping strategies such as stress reduction techniques, self-management skills and a variety of other techniques to help manage the depression and prevent its reoccurrence.
Post Treatment of Dysthymic disorder
In some cases, particularly those that began as early as childhood, dysthymic disorder may be a chronic condition. Some individuals will respond very well to medication and therapy and at their doctor's discretion carefully wean themselves from the SSRI. Others may need the medication to control their condition in the same way diabetics or those with other lifelong conditions do. The important thing to remember, particularly when using psychoactive medications, is to ensure your doctor is always aware of how you are feeling and what you are doing. Do not decide to discontinue the drugs because you are feeling better - this will cause your symptoms to return. If you are feeling better, this is not a sign that the condition is gone. Rather, it is a sign that the medication is working. If you are proactive in your treatment and treat dysthymic disorder like the serious illness it is, there is no reason you can't regain enjoyment in every aspect of your life.
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