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Low-Grade Depression (Dysthymia)
Low-Grade Depression, Dysthymia, Persistent Depressive Disorder
Low-Grade Depression is characterized by chronic feeling of little energy, malaise, generally depressed mood, low self-esteem, poor motivation, poor appetite or overeating, hopelessness and irritability, difficulty in concentrating and/or making decisions. These symptoms generally cause less impairment than major depressive episodes but, if left untreated, generally last for at least two years in adults and one year in children and adolescents.
Symptoms of Low Grade Depression / Dysthymia
Not everyone who suffers from Persistent Depressive Disorder exhibits every symptom of depression. Like all forms of depression, individuals may experience few or many of the following symptoms:
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
- Feelings of hopelessness, or pessimism
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
- Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
- Decreased energy or fatigue
- Feeling restless or having trouble sitting still
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
- Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
- Appetite and/or weight changes
- Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
- Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and/or that do not ease even with treatment
Risks Factors for Low Grade Depression / Dysthymia
Research suggests a combination of factors may cause low grade depression; there are psychological, environmental, biological and genetic considerations. Persistent Depressive Disorder often begins in adulthood, and in older adults may occur in tandem with other serious medical conditions.
Specific risk factors for Persistent Depressive Disorder include:
- A history of depression in close relatives
- Trauma, stress, or major life changes
- Complex physical illnesses and medications
Treatments for Low Grade Depression / Dysthymia
Even the most severe cases of Persistent Depressive Disorder can be treated, and treatment is most effective when it is started early. Low Grade Depression can be treated with psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of both.
Every individual is affected by low grade depression in their own way, and treatment must be customized to the individual. In other words, there is no single pre-defined depression treatment that works for everyone.
Psychotherapy, sometimes referred to as “talk therapy” or counseling, is a vital component of treating dysthymia / depression. There are a variety of specific psychotherapeutic approaches that can be explored in the treatment of depression, including:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Mindfulness-based Psychotherapy
- Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy
- Integrative Psychotherapy
Medication, specifically antidepressants, may help improve the way the brain manages chemicals that control mood or stress. Every individual will react to various medications in their own way, and several different medications may be tried before finding one that improves symptoms with manageable side effects.
Get Help for Low Grade Depression / Dysthymia
If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms and wish to seek treatment for depression, please contact me for an evaluation.
Also see Depression Therapy »