Avoidant Personality Disorder


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Shared by Brenda.....Wordwrapped by cher
from Your Family Doctor 
Dysthymic Disorder: When Depression Lingers 
What is dysthymic disorder? 
Dysthymic disorder, or dysthymia, is a type of 
depression that lasts for at least 2 years. 
Some people suffer from dysthymia for many 
years. Their depression is usually mild or 
moderate, rather than severe. Most people 
with dysthymia can't tell for sure when 
they first became depressed. 
Symptoms of dysthymic disorder include 
a poor appetite or overeating, difficulty 
sleeping or sleeping too much, low energy, 
fatigue and feelings of hopelessness. People 
with dysthymic disorder may have periods of 
normal mood that last up to 2 months. Family 
members and friends may not even know that 
their loved one is depressed. Even though 
this type of depression is mild, it may 
make it difficult for a person to function 
at home, school or work. 
How common is dysthymic disorder? 
Dysthymic disorder is a fairly common type 
of depression. It is estimated that up to 
3% of people have dysthymia. Dysthymia can 
begin in childhood or in adulthood. No one 
knows why, but like most types of depression, 
it appears to be more common in women. 
What causes dysthymic disorder? 
No one knows for sure what causes dysthymia. 
It may be related to some changes in the brain 
that involve a chemical called serotonin 
(say "seer-o-tone-in"). Serotonin helps your 
brain handle emotions and make judgments. 
Personality problems, medical problems and 
ongoing life stress may also play a role. 
How is dysthymic disorder diagnosed? 
If you think you have dysthymia, discuss 
your concerns with your doctor. Your doctor 
will ask you questions to find out if you 
have depression and, if so, to identify 
the type of depression you have. Your 
doctor may ask you questions about your 
health and your symptoms, such as how 
well you're sleeping, if you feel tired 
all of the time, and if you have trouble 
concentrating. Your doctor will also 
consider medical reasons that may cause 
you to feel depressed, such as problems 
with your thyroid or a certain medicine 
you may be taking. 
What is the treatment for dysthymic disorder? 
Dysthymic disorder can be treated with an 
antidepressant medicine. This type of drug 
relieves depression. Antidepressants are 
commonly prescribed, and they are safe. 
They do not create an artificial "high," 
and they are not habit-forming. 
If you are given an antidepressant, it 
may take a number of weeks, or even 
several months, before you and your 
doctor know whether the drug is helping 
you. It is important for you to take the 
medicine exactly as your doctor tells you
to. If the antidepressant helps you feel 
better, you may need to take this medicine 
for several years. You should continue to 
take the antidepressant drug until your doctor
tells you to stop, even if you begin to feel 
better. If you stop taking the medicine, 
you may get depressed again. 
Will I have to see a psychiatrist or psychotherapist? 
You may not have to see a psychiatrist or
psychotherapist unless medication is not 
working or you have problems taking the 
drugs that are usually prescribed for 
depression. Sometimes, in addition to 
taking an antidepressant medicine, 
patients are referred for psychotherapy 
to help them deal with specific problems. 
This type of therapy can be very helpful 
for some people. 
What can I do to help myself feel better? 
Talking to your doctor about how you're 
feeling and getting treatment for dysthymic 
disorder are the first steps to feeling better. 
The following are other ways to make yourself feel better: 
Get involved in activities that make you 
feel good or make you feel like you've 
accomplished something. For example, 
go to a movie, take a drive on a pleasant day, 
go to a ball game or work in the garden. 
Eat well-balanced, healthy meals. 
Don't use drugs or drink alcohol. Both can 
make depression worse. 
Get plenty of exercise. Exercising 4 to 6 
times a week for 30 to 60 minutes each time 
is a good goal. Exercise can help lift your mood. 
(Created 9/00)
(Updated 03/03)
This handout provides a general overview on 
this topic and may not apply to everyone. 
To find out if this handout applies to you and to get more information on this subject, talk to your family doctor. 
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this and many other health-related topics.
Copyright  2000-2003 by the American Academy of Family Physicians. 
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