Why aren’t I happy?
Carol had felt depressed for as long as she could remember. She managed to function at work and at home, but she’d never really felt good about herself or hopeful about the future. And it never really went away.
Then Carol was diagnosed with dysthymia (pronounced dis-THIGH-mee-a), a chronic form of depression. It’s not the same as major depressive disorder, which is more severe and doesn’t last as long. Dysthymia causes low mood or sadness that lasts at least two years. It often begins early in life.
People with dysthymia may have just a few of the symptoms associated with major depression, such as sadness, low energy or fatigue, sleeping problems, poor concentration and eating too much or too little. But they struggle nearly every day with low self-esteem, despair, and hopelessness.
Dysthymia affects up to 5% of the general population and women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with it as men. People with dysthymia are more likely than most people to have substance abuse problems and to have overlapping episodes of major depression, especially if their dysthymia is left untreated.
There are a number of treatment options for people with dysthymia. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)such as Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Celexa or Lexapro. Talk therapies, such as cognitive/behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy, have also been shown to be effective.Carol is feeling a lot better since she started treatment with a combination of an antidepressant and the help of a therapist, although she still has some symptoms. Her doctor says continued treatment may be necessary.
If you suffer from a persistently depressed mood, see your health care provider.