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How do I Choose the Best Dysthymia Treatment?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 17, 2024
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The best treatment for dysthymia, also known as dysthymic disorder, varies with each patient largely because patients respond differently to different types of treatment. Perhaps most often, doctors will recommend a combination of medication and psychotherapy. The best type of medication and the best type of psychotherapy, however, varies among patients. If you have dysthymia, you should consult a health care professional about the best course of treatment for you. It will be important to communicate regularly with your doctor about how the treatment is going so that it can be altered if needed.

Dysthymia, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manuals IV-TR, is a two-plus-year period of sadness or irritability, with most days being characterized by a low or sad mood. Many people living with dysthymia do not seek treatment because they've always felt this way or have felt this way for a long time and therefore think it is normal. This type of depression may not be as dramatic as the episodic symptoms of major depressive disorder, where a person goes from having a normal mood to an extremely low mood, but the condition is still difficult to live with. Recognizing these symptoms paves the way toward finding meaningful dysthymia treatment.

If you think you may have dysthymia, the first step toward treatment is to seek out help from a health care professional. Psychotherapists and psychiatrists, for example, may help diagnose the condition. Psychiatrists will also be able to prescribe medicines for it. Psychiatrists may or may not be able to also provide therapy, and since many health care professionals recommend a therapeutic approach to treating dysthymia, you may also need a therapists help.

Anti-depressants are a common form of dysthymia treatment, but all anti-depressants are not equally effective. Some of the types of drugs used to treat dysthymia include selected serotonin reuptake inhibitors, selected serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, tricyclics, and monoamine oxidase inhibitors. Though the first type of medication you're prescribed might be effective, you'll likely need to experiment with more than one type to find the right one.

Psychotherapy is another common approach to treating dysthymia. The type of psychotherapy and the number sessions needed will vary by patient. Sometimes, relatively brief programs that take 20 weeks or less is all that is needed. These programs may have a behavioral or interpersonal emphasis. Alternately, a more psychodynamic long-term therapy may be what you need. Other times, therapists will recommend a combined approach involving behavioral and other therapeutic methods to address your needs. The biggest factor in finding the best therapy though is your comfort with your therapist as opposed to the type of therapy provided. As a result, you should seek out a therapist that you feel comfortable with. Oftentimes, this means you'll need to try out a few therapist before finding one you match with.

During treatment, your psychiatrist or therapist should be looking out for other developing conditions in addition to assessing how your course of treatment is working for you. You should also be vigilant about how the treatment is going.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
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Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia...
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