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Dysthymia (Mild, Chronic Depression)

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What Is Psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy (or talk therapy) is used in dysthymia and other mood disorders to help the person develop appropriate coping skills for dealing with everyday life and challenging erroneous negative beliefs about oneself. Psychotherapy can also help increase adherence with medication and healthy lifestyle habits, as well as help the patient and family understand the mood disorder. You may benefit from one-on-one therapy, family therapy, group therapy, or a support group with others who live with chronic depression.

How Do Antidepressants Help Ease Dysthymia?

There are different classes of antidepressants available to treat dysthymia. Your doctor will assess your physical and mental health, including any other medical condition, and then find the antidepressant that is most effective with the least side effects.

Antidepressants may take several weeks to work fully. They should be taken for at least six to nine months after an episode of chronic depression. In addition, it sometimes may take several weeks to safely discontinue an antidepressant, so let your doctor guide you if you choose to stop the drug.

Sometimes antidepressants have uncomfortable side effects. That’s why you have to work closely with your doctor to find the antidepressant that gives you the most benefit with the least side effects.

What Else Can I Do to Feel Better?

Getting an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment is a major step in feeling better with chronic depression. In addition, ask your doctor about the benefits of healthy lifestyle habits such as eating a well-balanced diet, getting regular exercise, avoiding alcohol and smoking, and being with close friends and family members for strong social support. These positive habits are also important in improving mood and well-being.

Can Dysthymia Worsen?

It’s not uncommon for a person with dysthymia to also experience an episode of major depression at the same time. This is called double depression. That’s why it’s so important to seek an early and accurate medical diagnosis. Your doctor can then recommend the most effective treatment to help you feel yourself again.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Joseph Goldberg, MD on February 08, 2014
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