Chronic Sadness: Dysthymia

· December 26, 2015
We all know what it is to go through a hard time, where sorrow envelops us and where negative thoughts force us to have to rethink many things in our lives. Sometimes simply by going through these difficult moments we learn a lot and also find appropriate coping strategies.

Now then… What if chronic sadness develops? What happens if this internal discomfort, this grief and despair, do not get resolved and keep “dragging us” down each day? In this case, we are talking about a disorder called dysthymia, which is a bit different from the classic depression and which is worth knowing a little more about.

Follow along in this reading to understand this type of illness.

What is dysthymia or chronic sadness?

Chronic Sadness

It is a type of depression but with important expressive and emotional nuances, which the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) states quite clearly under another name: persistent depressive disorder. We will explain which are the principal characteristics:

  • It is a state of chronic sadness and discouragement. There are no periods which are better or worse, but this negative emotional sensation often lasts for more than two years.
  • It is worth knowing that this type of disorder is not dependent upon any “external factors,” that is, it is not necessary to have suffered from some sort of loss or a disappointment in order to fall into this type of depression. Its origin is organic and almost always hereditary, and generally affects women.
  • It usually appears at about age 21.
  • There are a few very serious cases, where for example the person is unable to even care for themselves and needs daily help in order to eat, to get dressed… These are cases, as we said, in which the dysthymia is very pronounced.
  • Despite having a hereditary component, stress tends to worsen even more the feeling of dejection, so much so that one can end up falling into the more serious state as previously mentioned.
  • To the chronic sadness are added moodiness, fatigue, insomnia, eating disorders and difficulty concentrating.
  • If the dysthymia is not treated early, it can lead to “major depression” which is an even more serious mental disorder often accompanied by anger, rage and even suicide attempts. This is very dangerous and shows the importance of treating these types of problems as early as possible.

How is dysthymia treated?

Chronic Sadness

In the first place we must have clearly in mind that dysthymia is a disease that must be managed throughout our life. Can we enjoy a good quality of life day by day? Of course. You can achieve this as long as you follow these guidelines:

  • Antidepressant medication.
  • Follow behavioral and cognitive psychotherapy, even more from group therapy.
  • Have regular medical monitoring throughout your entire life.
  • Have a good social and personal support circle.

We must keep in mind, above all, that the origin of dysthymia is hereditary, and therefore, organic. Almost always there is a slight alteration in the neurotransmitters of serotonin. This means that medication will be effective and that without a doubt psychological therapy will be a great help. However, these treatments must be followed nearly all your life. You can enjoy your daily life, you can go to work and fulfill your dreams and goals.

Now then, people who have been diagnosed with dysthymia must be aware of their own problem and maintain a great internal force in order to understand what has occurred. This is a disease that must be controlled, treated and above all, must adequately alleviate any sources of stress and anxiety, because these can become triggers of the most severe state of dysthymia.

Chronic Sadness

Remember also that if someone in your family has this disorder, you have a greater probability of suffering from it also. Take action, speak with your doctor and follow all his suggestions. In conclusion, we must also point out that it is important that you know how to differentiate between dysthymia and normal depression:

  • Dysthymia usually appears around age 21 or before and is a state of permanent sadness that does not have any concrete reasons or origin for this emotion, this despondency. It lasts from one and a half years to two years and if not treated early can develop into a more serious depression which is sometimes accompanied by suicide attempts.

Keep this in mind!