How can I improve my dysthymia

Von, Masters Degree in Psychology
All NetDoktor content is checked by medical journalists.

The Dysthymia is a mild form of depression. However, the depressive symptoms last for several years. They significantly limit the lives of those affected and cause great suffering. Read everything you need to know about dysthymia here.

Dysthymia: description

Dysthymia or dysthymia is a chronic depression. However, the symptoms are significantly weaker than in a classic depressive episode. In the past, dysthymia was known as neurotic depression. However, the term neurosis is now out of date.

Who does dysthymia affect?

The probability of developing dysthymia in one's life is around six percent. 75 percent of chronic depression begin before the age of 21. Nevertheless, the dysthymia can occur at any age. Both children and the elderly are affected. In children, this form of depression is equally common in girls and boys, while more women suffer from it in adulthood.

Dysthymia: symptoms

The symptoms of dysthymia correspond to those of classic depression - albeit in a less pronounced form. These include:

  • decreased drive
  • sleep disorders
  • little self-confidence
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • social withdrawal
  • Loss of interest
  • decreased talkativeness
  • pessimistic view of the future
  • Difficulty with routine tasks
  • Tendency to cry
  • hopelessness

Depression - What Really Helps

  • Tips against depression

    Most people with depression can get help with psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of both. But what to do if the waiting times for a therapy place are long or the treatment does not bring about sufficient improvement? Here you can read about the effective options available.
  • Brain balance through electricity

    Current impulses in the brain? That sounds scary at first. In fact, the patient does not notice anything from a so-called electroconvulsive therapy - he is put under anesthesia for a short time. Targeted impulses trigger a kind of short "epileptic attack". The procedure can help patients with major depression who have failed medication and psychotherapy. The risks of the intervention are low.
  • Night awake

    In awake therapy, patients must remain awake for the second half of the night or the entire night. This is not the way to cure depression. However, the symptoms disappear for a short time. This can be an enormous relief for those affected and awakens in them the hope of actually being able to overcome their illness - an important prerequisite for further therapeutic success.
  • Therapy on the Internet

    If you have difficulty leaving your apartment or have to wait a long time for a therapy place, professional advice on the Internet could help. The therapy is mainly carried out with the help of a special computer program based on the methods of cognitive behavioral therapy. In addition, there is online contact with a therapist.
  • Exercise as an antidepressant

    Exercise is a good addition to any form of antidepressant therapy! In fact, exercise works just as well as an antidepressant. It reduces stress and influences chemical messengers such as serotonin and norepinephrine. Exercise also strengthens the feeling that you can do something about depression yourself. That drives away lethargy and hopelessness. Those who train in a group also benefit from social contact, which otherwise usually becomes less and less with depression.
  • Light therapy against winter blues

    Light therapy is especially helpful against winter depression. To do this, the patient sits in front of a light source that emits strong artificial daylight for 30 to 60 minutes every day for two weeks before sunrise and after sunset. Light therapy is not suitable for other forms of depression.
  • Pacemaker for the mind

    A new procedure that has only been offered in studies so far is deep brain stimulation. Electrodes implanted under the skin trigger impulses in certain brain regions that are responsible for mood. The device works in a similar way to a pacemaker. The method also seems to have a long-term effect, which is why the chances are good that it will be part of the normal therapy program in the future.

Dysthymia: causes and risk factors

As with the classic depressive episode, the exact causes are not known. Dysthymia is probably also a combination of genetic, biological and psychosocial factors. Studies of the causes of chronic depression found that many patients experienced early trauma, such as abuse.

Dysthymia: examination and diagnosis

According to the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-10), the following criteria must be present for the diagnosis of dysthymia:

  1. The depressive symptoms show themselves constantly over a period of at least two years or occur regularly during this time. Normal mood phases hardly last longer than a few weeks. A slightly increased mood (hypomania) does not occur.
  2. The stages are not difficult enough to qualify for recurrent depressive disorder.
  3. At least three of the above symptoms should be present during a depressive phase.

Dysthymia: treatment

According to the recommendations of the German Society for Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Neurology (DGPPN), dysthymia should be treated with a combination of antidepressants and psychotherapy. Psychotherapy alone is not as effective as medication for dysthymia. The main drugs prescribed nowadays are serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which increase the level of serotonin in the brain. They make an important contribution to the regulation of the messenger substances that are disturbed in people with depression.

Very effective therapy methods are cognitive behavioral therapy, analytical forms of therapy and interpersonal therapy. The supportive accompaniment by the therapist is extremely important, especially at the beginning of the treatment, as the medication only takes effect after a few days or even weeks.

A crucial part of the therapy is the education of the patient about the illness (psychoeducation). People who have dysthymia often have difficulty recognizing the disorder. They usually have had the disease for a long time and have gotten used to it to a certain extent. In addition, the signs are not so serious that you get help right away. If there are indications of dysthymia, those affected or their relatives should contact a doctor or psychotherapist. Through the treatment, patients can find their way back to a better quality of life.

Read more about the therapies

Read more about therapies that can help here:

Dysthymia: disease course and prognosis

The main problem with this mental disorder is that it is seldom recognized due to the less pronounced symptoms. If chronic depression is left untreated, those affected will often suffer lifelong effects. Because even a mild depression leads to restrictions in professional and social life.

In addition, 40 percent of patients develop a major depressive episode over time. There are one depressive episode and one Dysthymia at the same time, this is known as "double depression" or double depression. Chronic weak depressive symptoms then appear, which in the meantime increase sharply. This form is particularly difficult to diagnose and, due to the severity of the disease, also an extremely therapy-resistant depression. For the treatment of double depression, as with dysthymia, the best results are achieved when psychotherapy and medication are combined.

Author & source information