Dysthymia: the continuous weight of sadness

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Joe Dispenza


Dysthymia: the continuous weight of sadness

Last update: July 24, 2017

Sometimes it happens to everyone to feel down in the dumps. It is normal to be sad from time to time. These are moments, often necessary to react and try to improve our life or to overcome unpleasant events.

Now imagine that this negative mood has been with you continuously for more than two years now. It is not difficult to imagine the discomfort that a person in these conditions can feel. This is what happens in case of dysthymia… read on to find out more!

"I am very sad and I feel more unfortunate than I can say, and I don't know where I have come ... I don't know what to do or what to think, but I really want to leave this place ... I feel so much melancholy"

-Vincent van Gogh-

What is dysthymia?

We speak of dysthymia when a person is in a depressive state of mind for at least two years. The observation of this condition can be carried out by those who suffer from it and by those around the person.

Although they may seem similar, dysthymia and depression are not the same.

In case of dysthymia, during the last two years of life the person has not passed a period exceeding two months in which he has not presented, at least, two of the following symptoms: loss or increase in appetite, insomnia or hypersomnia, lack of energy or fatigue, low self-esteem, difficulty concentrating or making decisions, feelings of hopelessness.

However, people with dysthymia sometimes do not have all of these symptoms or are not as intense as in a depressive picture. There is another problem, however: it is highly persistent over time. So people with dysthymia do they find themselves immersed practically continuously in a melancholy mood. Furthermore, if adequate psychological treatment is not used, this condition can lead to a more serious depressive disorder.  

"Melancholy is a painless desire, similar to sadness to the same extent that mist resembles rain."

-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow-

In addition to preventing the onset of other psychopathologies, therapy is necessary since dysthymia causes severe distress in those who suffer from it. Consequently, there is a strong reduction in the quality of life of these people, since their psychological malaise affects the different areas in which they move.

What is the difference between dysthymia and depression?

With the above, it would not be strange to ask whether Isn't dysthymia the same as depression? The answer is "no", even if it is true that they have some common characteristics, which can deceive us.

Depressed people also feel low for most of the day and most days. This condition is evident, like dysthymia, both in the eyes of the subject who suffers from it and those around him. The difference is that in depression the duration is at least two weeks, while in dysthymia we are talking about two years or more.

“And in this hesitation of breath and agony, full of pains what I can hardly endure. Don't you hate the drops of my melancholy to fall? "

-Ruben Dario-

The other common elements are sleep disturbances, increase or loss of appetite (although in depression a significant change in weight can occur without following a suitable diet for this purpose), fatigue (which in depression is seen more like a continued loss of energy) and difficulty concentrating or making decisions (accompanied by a persistent reduction in thinking ability).

As we can see, already in the similarities there are nuances that mark differences. To what has already been said, we must add that in depression greatly reduces interest or pleasure in all or almost all activities, most days and for most of the day. But there is more.

There are also daily and continued agitation or psychomotor retardation, excessive or inappropriate feelings of worthlessness or guilt and recurring thoughts and ideas of death or suicide or attempts and plans to carry them out. All this is absent in dysthymia. In both, however, we can see the deterioration and discomfort caused in those who suffer from it, which highlights the need to seek help so that those affected can get out of this terrible situation.

Images courtesy of Xavier Sotomayor, Priscilla du Preez and Patryck Sobczak

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