The Gray Area Between Normalcy and Depression - Dysthymia
As we've said before, doctors diagnose depression along four different dimensions, including the number, length, type, and severity of depressive symptoms.
But here's the rub. Some people are really not very happy, but their depression symptoms may not be that severe. Sometimes they may just be unhappy, or their appetite may not be as good as it usually is, and these symptoms don't affect their lives that much. If the number and severity of their depressive symptoms do not meet the diagnostic guidelines for depression, should we treat these patients as depressed or not depressed?
In fact, in addition to the diagnosis of depression, there are other disorders recorded in the diagnostic guidelines to describe the symptoms in these patients, which lie in the gray area between depression and normality. One of these disorders is called Dysthymia.
Compared to patients with true depression, although their depressive symptoms are mild, symptoms in dysthymic patients are much more persistent. Patients generally need to have symptoms of Dysthymia for at least two years before we can diagnose them as having dysthymia.
Treatment for Dysthymia is similar to depression in a way that doctors usually start with antidepressants to relieve their symptoms. But from clinical experience, what patients with dysthymia need most is to untie the knot of the past and learn to see the world from another perspective.