While depression is well-known, dysthymia is a lesser-known mood disorder. Dysthymia is a sort of low-level depression that alternates between periods of normal and poor mood. Dysthymia, like serious depression, can continue untreated for a long time, although the symptoms are different. It is important to learn more about dysthymia and how it affects people in relation to addiction.
What Is Dysthymia?
Dysthymia (PDD) is a chronic mood disorder characterized by low-level depression symptoms lasting two years or more. The depressive episodes might last up to two months, with or without symptoms.
Dysthymia affects everyone differently. Some people may continue to live a somewhat normal life, with less impairment than serious depression. For others, dysthymia can cause substantial disability and daily disruption.
Trauma, family history, or other biological reasons might cause dysthymia. The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that 1.3% of American adults have dysthymia.
Signs of Dysthymia
Signs of dysthymia can be missed if someone is not aware of the condition. Symptoms may be misattributed to non-mental health issues or neglected altogether. The DSM-V defines the dysthymic disorder as having two or more of the following symptoms most days for two years or more:
- Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
- Lack of energy or exhaustion
- Changes in appetite or eating habits
- Sleep troubles
- Difficulty focusing or deciding
Dysthymia in children and teenagers manifests as low energy, moodiness, aloofness, or increased irritation. It usually begins in adolescence.
Is It Linked to Addiction?
A person living with dysthymia may be more prone to substance abuse, especially if the disorder has not been detected or treated. Even for those who have been diagnosed with dysthymia, coping by using alcohol or drugs might lead to a substance dependence issue. Substance abuse can exacerbate the problem and lead to an unhealthy pattern of usage, dependency, and addiction.
How Sobriety Can Help You Mentally and Physically
The link between dysthymia and addiction is not always clear. A person suffering from dysthymia may self-medicate with alcohol or drugs. Substance misuse can intensify symptoms of depression, leading to increased use of drugs or alcohol to counteract the symptoms.
However, significant alcohol or drug use may be a cause of chronic depression if it started first. This can lead to a vicious cycle where both depression and substance use disorders become unmanageable, each increasing the other.
Left untreated or misdiagnosed, Dysthymia can worsen and increase the risk for other problems such as substance abuse or eating disorders. If you know someone who may be suffering from a mental health disorder, help and hope are available. Reach out to Avalon Malibu at (844) 857-5992.