If you've been feeling sluggish for what seems like ages, you may be suffering from dysthymia, a type of mild or moderate depression that can last for at least a couple of years. Some people suffer from dysthymic disorder for many years, though it's often hard for the patient to recall when he first experienced symptoms of depression.
The symptoms of dysthymia include: sleeping too much or too little, binge eating or poor appetite, fatigue, lack of energy, and feelings of hopelessness. Dysthymia may come and go, which makes for a confusing picture of the condition. The disorder can disappear for as long as 2 months at a time. The combination of asymptomatic periods and mild symptomatic periods tends to fool relatives and friends who may never realize that a loved one is suffering. But even though the symptoms aren't severe, they may make it hard for the sufferer to function in the workplace, in school, or at home.
Dysthymic disorder as type of depression is seen quite often and occurs in 4% of the population. Both children and adults can develop dysthymia. While experts aren't sure of the reason, as in other types of depression, dysthymia tends to strike more women than men. The cause of this condition is also unclear, but may be related to serotonin production. Serotonin is responsible for helping your brain cope with making judgments and handling emotions. Medical conditions or stress may also contribute to the development of this condition.
If you suspect you have dysthymia, you should make an appointment to see your physician. Your doctor will ask you questions about your sleep patterns, fatigue, and problems with concentration. He will also take into account medical reasons that may be causing your symptoms, for instance, thyroid issues or a new medication.
If your doctor finds that you do have dysthymia, you will probably be prescribed antidepressant medication. Counseling is often advised as a therapeutic measure to be used in conjunction with medication. Many experts feel that the combination of these two therapies is the ideal way of treating this condition. In addition to these measures, here are some things you can do on your own to improve your mood:
*Engage in activities that make you feel good or successful. This could be as simple as going to the movies, or attending a ball game, or it may involve some physical work, such as gardening. Doing good deeds for others can heighten feelings of self-worth.
*Eat regular meals that are balanced and healthy.
*Stay away from recreational drugs and alcohol which can worsen your depression.
*Exercise several times a week for at least half an hour. Regular exercise is a proven mood-booster.