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What is dysthymic disorder and how to avoid it?

Q: What are the recent developements in medical treatment of stress and dysthymic disorder. Please explain what are the symptoms of dysthymic disorder and direct me to some general literature and how to avoid it. Thanks.

A:For recent developments and literature in the area of stress management, please check MEDLINE at www.nlm.nih.gov. Dysthymic disorder or dysthymia is a type of depression that lasts for at least 2 years. Some people suffer from dysthymia for years. The depression is usually mild or moderate, rather than severe. Most people with dysthymia cant tell for sure when they first became depressed. Symptoms of dysthymic disorder include a poor appetite or overeating, difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much, low energy, fatigue and feelings of hopelessness. But people with dysthymic disorder may have periods of normal mood that last up to 2 months. Family members and friends may not even know that their loved one is depressed. Even though this type of depression is mild, it may make it difficult for a person to function at home, school or work. Dysthymic disorder is a fairly common type of depression. Up to 3% of people have dysthymia and from 5 to 15% of patients in a general OPD have dysthymia. If you think you have dysthymia, discuss your concerns with your doctor. Your doctor will ask you questions to find out if you have depression and to identify the type of depression you have. Your doctor may ask you questions about your health and your symptoms, such as how well youre sleeping, if you feel tired all of the time, if you have trouble concentrating. Your doctor will also consider medical reasons that may cause you to feel depressed, such as problems with your thyroid or a medicine you may be taking. Dysthymic disorder can be treated with an antidepressant medicine. This type of drug relieves depression. Antidepressants are commonly prescribed and they are safe. They do not create an artificial high and they are not addicting. If you are given an antidepressant, it may take a number of weeks or even several months before you and your doctor know whether the drug is helping you. It is important for you to take the medicine as it is prescribed. If the antidepressant drug helps you feel better, you may need to take this medicine for several years. In other words, continue to take the antidepressant drug even though you begin to feel better. If you stop taking the medicine, you may get depressed again. Talking to your doctor about how you are feeling and getting treatment for the dysthymic disorder are the first steps to feeling better. Other ways to make yourself feel better are: Get involved in activities that make you feel good or make you feel like you've accomplished something. For example, go to a movie, take a drive on a pleasant day, go to watch a match or work in the garden. Eat well-balanced, healthy meals. Dont use drugs or alcohol. Both can make depression worse. Exercise as much as you can. Exercising 3 times a week for 30 minutes to 1 hour is a good goal. Exercise can help lift your mood.


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