Depression

Chronic depression

Chronic depression also referred to as Dysthymia or mild depression. It shares the same symptoms with major depression but with this one however these symptoms will last for longer periods and be less severe. Some of these symptoms may include feeling low, exhaustion, joylessness and a lack of motivation. If these symptoms last for more than two years then you may have Dysthymia.

Some other symptoms may include:

  • poor appetite or overeating
  • difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
  • low self-esteem
  • poor concentration
  • low energy
  • fatigue
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness
  • Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
  • Irritability, restlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
  • Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment
  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings
  • Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
  • Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping

What causes chronic depression?

No one actually knows the exact cause of chronic depression, there are some claims that depression stems from a chemical imbalance in the brain, such as if you have too much or insufficient amounts of a particular brain chemical.

Many other factors may contribute to the onset of depression, including genetic characteristics, changes in hormone levels, certain medical illnesses, stress, grief, or substance abuse. Any of these factors alone or in combination can cause this disorder.

Treatment for depression

The best treatment is a combination of psychotherapy and medication and self-help techniques.

Antidepressants

balance the chemicals in your brain. They raise levels of the hormone serotonin to lift your mood, help you sleep and make you feel less irritable.

Dysthymia can be treated with various types of antidepressants, including:

  • selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as fluoxetine (Prozac) and sertraline (Zoloft)
  • tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), such as amitriptyline (Elavil) and amoxapine (Asendin)
  • serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), such as desvenlafaxine (Pristiq) and duloxetine (Cymbalta)

You may need to try different medications and dosages to find an effective solution for you. This requires patience, as many medications take several weeks to take full effect.

Talk to your doctor if you continue to have concerns about your medication. Your doctor may suggest making a change in dosage or medication. Never stop taking your medication as directed without speaking to your doctor first. Stopping treatment suddenly or missing several doses may cause withdrawal-like symptoms and make depressive symptoms worse.

Psychotherapy

will usually include emotional support and education about depression. Cognitive behavioral therapy is designed to examine and help correct faulty, self-critical thought patterns. Psychodynamic, insight-oriented or interpersonal psychotherapy can help a person sort out conflicts in important relationships or explore the history behind the symptoms.

Self-help and alternative therapies that may be useful for depression include:

Exercise

Regular exercise (20–30 minutes a day) is extremely important for staying healthy and releasing tension. Most exercises are very cheap or free. Group sports are fun, but individual activities like walking, running, swimming and cycling are also very good for clearing the mind and releasing physical tension. The important thing is not to overdo it and injure yourself.

Yoga

Yoga is a mind-body practice is considered one of many types of complementary and integrative health approaches. Yoga brings together physical and mental disciplines that may help you achieve peacefulness of body and mind. This can help you relax and manage stress and depression.

Yoga has many styles, forms and intensities. Hatha yoga, in particular, may be a good choice for stress management. Hatha is one of the most common styles of yoga, and beginners may like its slower pace and easier movements. But most people can benefit from any style of yoga — it’s all about your personal preferences.

Meditation

Sit comfortably in a quiet spot. Close your eyes if you like. Breathe in through your nose. As you exhale, say the word ‘One’ silently to yourself. You might like to focus on the sound you make exhaling (like the Sanskrit word ‘Om’). Or, if your eyes are open, focus on an object, exploring its colours and textures. Spend at least 10 minutes meditating, but stay focused.

Running

Running is one of the best exercises for your health,  it can reduce stress. Studies show that it is very effective at reducing fatigue, improving alertness and concentration, and at enhancing overall cognitive function.

The long term advantages of running are great, too – improved physical strength, more energy and vitality, and weight loss and muscle toning. But in the short term, exercise can begin to help you manage your depression right away.

Running also connects people. Whether you are training for a marathon, work with a coach, run with friends for motivation and accountability, you are socializing. This takes away feelings of loneliness, which is a common problem for those with depression.