Mild Depression

What is mild depression? What are the symptoms of mild depression? What risks are associated with mild depression? What treatments are available for mild depression? The answer to these mild depression questions can be found in this article.

Mild depression, minor depression, and chronic depression are alternative names for dysthymic disorder or dysthymia. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), this disorder affects around 10.9 million Americans age 18 and older. Dysthymia comes from a Greek word meaning “despondency” and entered English in the 1840’s through New Latin. In this article, you will gain an overview of mild depression or dysthymia.

If you think you may have mild depression, you should schedule a visit with your primary care physician or a mental health professional. These experts can provide advice and insight that no article can. If you need immediate assistance, you could go to an emergency room or try a mental health hotline, or if appropriate, a crisis line.

 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline                      National Alliance on Mental Illness

1-800-273-TALK (8255)                                          1-800-950-NAMI (6264)

What Is Mild Depression?

Mild depression or dysthymia, is a less severe form of depression than major depression. Unlike depressions that are episodic, however, mild depression can last two years or more, so that its mildness is, to a certain extent, offset by its persistence. The problems it causes should not be underestimated on account of the word mild in the name. When someone is depressed for a long time, the thought patterns can become deeply engrained.

What Are Symptoms of Mild Depression?

Mild depression, as you might expect, because it is a mood disorder, leads to substantive changes in the feelings and emotions of the person who suffers with it. Someone with mild depression may not only experience a general loss of interest in life and activities, but also experience reduced self-esteem, along with feelings of guilt, worthlessness, hopelessness, sadness, emptiness, and pessimism.

Mental changes may also take place, resulting in difficulties with concentration and decision-making, as well as mental sluggishness. Thoughts of death or suicide may intrude in the person’s thoughts.

A person with mild depression may have physical symptoms as well, including general sluggishness, and a lack of energy or feeling of fatigue. Also possible is a range of physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment and that can range from aches to pains to headaches to various other problems.

Daily activities that are most affected for a person with mild depression include sleeping and eating. The person may find him- or herself with an increased or decreased appetite and with either insomnia or hypersomnia (oversleeping).

What Risks Are Associated with Mild Depression?

Though the name mild depression does not sound dangerous, there are risks associated with this disorder, especially for those who have not sought treatment. While it is apparently possible at any time for dysthymia to co-exist with either another mood disorder or a psychiatric disorder of another description, untreated patients may experience a co-occurrence of major depression. Having both major depression and dysthymic disorder at the same time is often called double depression.

What Are the Treatments for Mild Depression?

Treatment for mild depression is similar to treatment for most other kinds of depression: usually, the patient is referred for counseling (therapy), a course of medication, or counseling along with medication. The therapy may take several different forms, but likely candidates are interpersonal therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy. The three most frequently used types of medications are tricyclic antidepressants, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).

Medications of this type are begun slowly, with dosage gradually increasing until a therapeutic level is reached. Because the body takes several weeks to adjust to each level and because several medications or combinations of medication may need to be tried to ascertain the best combination for the particular patient, the initial process of medication adjustment may take some time. It is important to use the same careful step-by-step method when stopping any of this type of medications, which should not be done without consulting the physician who prescribed them.

The therapy sessions may be for the individual, or family or group therapy may be chosen. Other useful assistance may come from support groups and others who can teach lifestyle choices and changes that foster mental health.


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