Dysthymia and cyclothymia are two mild forms of depression that can last for years.
Symptoms of dysthymia include a depressed mood lasting most of the day, every day for two or more years, although the symptoms are not severe enough to warrant a diagnosis of a major depressive episode.
Cyclothymia is similar to a mild case of bipolar disorder, where symptoms of dysthymia alternate with manic behavior.
With treatment, depression can be overcome. For mild depression, help is often available through psychotherapy.
In psychotherapy the patient “unlearns” behavior patterns and responses that lead to depression, helping the patient identify elements in their life that cause depression.
If you prefer to avoid taking medication, psychotherapy is a viable alternative, although it does take time.
Here are some of the more common methods:
A cognitive/behavioral therapist will help the patient identify and change patterns of thinking and habits that feed the disorder. Theoretically, by developing better thinking habits, patients ‘unlearn’ negative patterns that cause their symptoms.
Interpersonal therapy examines the patient’s relationships with others. It helps identify relationships and interpersonal problems that cause or exacerbate depression.
A more specialized form of interpersonal therapy, family therapy seeks to mend family rifts and stresses that cause or exacerbate symptoms. It allows those members who have never experienced a depressive episode to get a better understanding of its effects on the sufferer, and educates all family members on effective coping strategies.
Depression Support Groups
Many therapists offer depression support groups in addition to one-on-one sessions. Support groups allow patients to discuss their condition with fellow sufferers.
Participants can learn how others deal with their symptoms, and gain a sense of community by realizing that they are not alone.
Most psychotherapy will touch on more than one of these models. Over time, psychotherapy can be a powerful treatment for mild, but chronic, depression.