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Dysthymic Disorder – Dysthymia (Dysthemia)
Dysthymic Disorder (otherwise known as Dysthymia or Dysthemia) is a form of depression, with symptoms similar to clinical or ‘major’ depression. But the symptoms of Dysthymic Disorder are milder and longer lasting. Typically, these symptoms do not disable a person. This is a chronic, mild depression that may develop in childhood, but more typically emerges in middle age. It is not uncommon for people with dysthymia to experience major depressive episodes. Sometimes referred to as neurotic depression, minor depression, or intermittent depression, the predominant characteristics of this disorder includes at least a two-year history of depressed moods, with episodes lasting two or more days.
Most people think of depression as a major disorder, which is usually severe, and last weeks or months. In major or clinical depression, the patient’s mood is noticeably low, they may have trouble sleeping, lose weight, lose interest in food, feel hopeless and suicidal. Whereas, Dysthymic Disorder is not as severe, has less impact on daily activities, but can last for years, or even decades.
Some patients suffer from ‘double depression’ – in other words, they have Dysthemia and major or clinical depression. Patients diagnosed with dysthymia often have family members who suffer from depression, or from bipolar disorder.
What are the symptoms?
While the symptoms of Dysthymic Disorder may mimic major or clinical depression, they are milder and last longer.
Symptoms can include:
How is it diagnosed and treated?
The guidelines for diagnosis of Dysthymic Disorder are quite specific:
Dysthemia symptoms can often be misdiagnosed by a general physician or attributed to some other physical problem. When it is diagnosed, dysthymia is somewhat difficult to treat.
It is imperative that the doctor rule out other conditions and evaluate the patient for the possibility of multiple disorders, like ‘double depression’ wherein the patient suffers from both Dysthemia and major, or clinical, depression. If both conditions exist, treating one without treating the other does not solve the long-term problem.
Treatment can include one or more of the following modalities:
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The Warning Signs Of An Impending Bipolar Disorder Manic Episode
Bipolar disorder - as the name implies - involves two distinct set of symptoms. One set throws the individual down into the depths of a massive depression. The other places the individual who suffers with bipolar disorder at the top of a peak manic episode.
Most everyone can eventually recognize the warning signs of an impending depressive episode related to bipolar disorder. More likely than not, individuals with bipolar disorder try very hard to avoid it.
However, for many individuals with bipolar disorder, it's more difficult to recognize the signs of an impending manic episode. After all, a manic episode of bipolar disorder can be mistaken in some cases - especially in the very early formation -- for the lifting of the corresponding mood swing of the depression.
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