Chronic Depression which is also medically called Dysthymia is a disorder which has the same impact as depression but with long lasting period and more intense in severity. This type of depression is chronic because it can last for even 2 years. It is classified as a mood disorder which has severe mood fluctuations where the victim feels absolutely fine and happy on some days while on other days feels extremely depressed. There is also a condition called double depression associated with this which can be caused by severe loss when the person is already suffering from chronic depression.
What are the causes of Chronic Depression?
No definitive cause has been identified for this prolonged depression that greatly impacts the victims life for a period that spans up to a few years. However, there are some inclinations towards genetic factor being the culprit which is accentuated by stress, being alone for a long time, lack of a social life, personal loss etc. Changes in levels of chemicals that stimulate brain functions are also suspected to play a role.
How to identify the condition?
There are a lot of typical symptoms for this condition. Most common symptoms are listed below;
- Low self esteem and confidence.
- Bypassing/Avoiding opportunities due to fear failure.
- Recurring suicidal thoughts.
- Lack of interest in any activity, even those which were enjoyable before.
- Sudden change in weight (either increase or decrease).
- Drastic change in sleeping patterns or timing.
- Withdrawal from all social contact and very low energy levels.
How to diagnose and treat Chronic Depression?
If a person experiences depression symptoms for more than 2 weeks, it is advisable to consult a doctor and explain your medical history and depression history if any. The doctor will analyse the symptoms and make sure if the condition is due to physical condition such as low levels of Thyroid hormones. If there is nothing abnormal with the physical condition, it is better to consult a depression therapist and provide him with all the details of symptoms experienced. The mood swings will be observed and there will be no more than a 2 months of absence of the depressed mood. There are some misconceptions that if the patient is cheerful towards life, there are chances of snapping out of the depression. However, the chances of snapping out of such long term depression are very less.
The condition can be aimed to be treated through either therapy or medication or a combination of both. Individual and Group Psychotherapy has been proved to provide results to some extent based on the intensity of the condition. Interpersonal therapy also helps when the cause is low self confidence caused by multiple failures in life.
Medication will include antidepressants to help the patient when the condition gets too intense to handle. However, different medications may need to be tried before one can conclude on the medication to which the patient responds well. Also, when there is enough progress due to the medications, the patient needs to stop the medication gradually tapering off from using it. Stopping the dose altogether suddenly might cause an unexpected mood swing.
Doctors say that this condition is not hopeless since a lot of patients have recovered with the help of therapies, medications, family support and have returned to their normal life and live happily.