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Illness Anxiety Disorder

Do you have a constant worry that you may have an illness? Are you constantly looking up your symptoms online?

Illness Anxiety Disorder, also known as hypochondria or health anxiety, is a constant, excessive worrying that you may become or are already seriously ill. An individual may get medically tested and the exam does not reveal an illness however, the individual believed that minor symptoms or the body’s normal sensations are signs of a severe illness. Furthermore, such condition may increase with age or during times of stress.

Illness Anxiety Disorder often causes problems among your relationships, disrupts your work-related performance, has daily life disruptions, causes financial instability, and may lead or trigger other mental disorders such as Somatic Symptom Disorder, Anxiety Disorders, Depression, or Personality Disorders.

What are the symptoms of Illness Anxiety Disorder?

  • Excessive preoccupation with the idea that you might get a serious disease or health condition
  • Individual worries excessively that minor symptoms or body sensations mean that you have a serious illness
  • Individuals become easily alarmed with health status
  • Negative test results do not give them reassurance
  • Worrying excessively about having a medical condition that runs in their family
  • Hard time functioning because of the preoccupation
  • Repeatedly check their body for signs of illness
  • Frequently make medical appointments OR avoid medical appointments because of fear
  • Avoid social situations because of health risks
  • Constantly talk about their health and possible illnesses
  • Often search on the internet for illnesses and causes

What causes Illness Anxiety Disorder?

The specific cause is not known, but the following factors are believed to play a role:

  • Beliefs
    • Don’t have clear understanding of the meaning of your body sensations
    • Lack of education on illnesses
  • Family (i.e. if parents themselves worry excessively)
  • Past experience

Risk factors include:

  • Times of major stress
  • History of child abuse
  • Threat of a serious illness that ends up not being serious
  • Serious childhood or parent illness
  • Having a personality of a worrier
  • Excessive health-related internet use

How is Illness Anxiety Disorder treated?

  • Psychotherapy, specifically Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which can help you with the following:
    • Identify your fears and beliefs
    • Learn how to view your body sensations
    • Become aware of your worries
    • Changes the ways you respond to body sensations
    • Learn skills to cope with anxiety and stress
    • Improve daily functioning at home, work, school, relationships, and social situations
    • Address other mental disorders

How can I help myself cope with Illness Anxiety Disorder?

  • Seek professional help if you’re having problems with anxiety
  • Learn to recognize your body when its stressed
  • Stick to your treatment plan
  • Know your triggers
  • Work with your help provider
    • What treatment is best for you?
    • Are there any side effects?
    • How long should I engage in this treatment or take the medication?
    • What are self-care steps that I can take?
    • Are there any brochures or websites that I should be looking at?
    • How can I educate my family and/or loved ones?
  • Practice stress management and relaxation techniques
  • Get physically active
  • Participate in activities
  • Avoid alcohol & recreational drugs
  • Avoid searching the internet for possible diseases

Conversion Disorder

What is Conversion Disorder?

It is a neurological condition that causes physical symptoms even though the doctors cannot find any injury or reason to explain such symptoms. In other words, an individual’s body has converted your emotional and psychological stress into a physical response. It might seem strange, but an individual with conversion disorder CANNOT control the symptoms.

It is important to note that women are more likely to experience such disorder as well as people who have a history of emotional trauma. Additionally, individuals who have a hard time expressing emotion or talking about their feelings, are more likely to experience such disorder.

NOTE: It is sometimes referred to as Functional Neurologic Disorder.

What are the symptoms?

Majority of the symptoms in Conversion Disorder include the nervous system (i.e. spinal cord, brain or other nerves):

  • Numbness or paralysis
  • Loss of smell of speech
  • An individual may experience tunnel vision, double vision, or blindness
  • Uncontrollable movements
  • Shaking
  • Weakness
  • Loss of balance
  • Seizures
  • Episodes of unresponsiveness
  • Difficulty walking, for example
  • Slurred speech or loss in ability to speak
  • Have a hard time hearing

What causes/triggers Conversion Disorder?

Although the specific cause is not known, it is believed that it is a way that an individual’s brain deals with emotional strife. However, stressful events, emotional or physical trauma, or changes in brain function can trigger such disorder as well.

How is Conversion Disorder treated?

Psychotherapy is the most common way to treat such disorder, including the following:

  • Hypnosis
  • Counseling
  • Occupational Therapy or Physical Therapy
  • Antidepressants
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Relaxation Techniques (i.e. meditation or yoga)

How can Conversion Disorder be prevented?

Taking in mind that such disorder can be triggered by emotional trauma and stress, find ways to relieve such stress and trauma. Some steps that you can take can include:

  • Seeking and receiving treatment for other disorders that may trigger Conversion Disorder including depression
  • Maintain a good balance between work, life, family, and school
  • Create positive relationships
  • Have a secure family atmosphere

How do I help myself or someone I know?

  • Support your loved one or seek social support yourself
    • Family, friends, support groups
  • Acknowledge the legitimacy of the symptoms (they are real)
  • Do not blame your loved one or yourself for having such disorder
  • Recognize the symptoms
    • Educate yourself on the subject

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

What is OCD?

Over 2.2 million Americans suffer from OCD.

An individual who suffers from OCD tends to have uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts, and behaviors in which they feel the urge and need to continuously engage in and repeat over and over. It is important to note that OCD is a type of anxiety disorder. Individuals who have OCD tend to have symptoms of obsessions, compulsions or both and as a result, they may interfere with their daily life and their ability to complete tasks.

Obsession Symptoms (repeated thoughts, urges, or mental images that create anxiety for an individual):

  • Fears germs or contamination
  • Feel the need to have things in a perfect order or symmetrical
  • Aggressive thoughts towards themselves or others
  • Unwanted forbidden or taboo though (i.e. sex, religion, or harm)
  • Constant worry about getting hurt or other getting hurt
  • Tend to belief that certain number or colors are “good” and “bad”
  • Individuals are constantly aware of blinking, breathing or other body sensations

Compulsion Symptoms (behaviors that a person with OCD will then feel the urge to do in response to an obsessive thought):

  • Excessive cleaning/handwashing
  • Ordering & arranging things in a particular and precise way
  • They tend to repeatedly check on things (i.e. checking if the door is locked)
  • Compulsive counting (i.e. the number of steps they take)
  • Person with OCD cannot control their thoughts or behaviors
  • Can be afraid of touching doorknobs, public toilets or shaking hands
  • Spends at least an hour a day on these thoughts
  • After completing such behavior, they still don’t feel pleasure, but rather a relief in their anxiety for a small period of time and may them feel the urge to do the task again

What causes OCD?

The causes remain unknown, but there are risk factors that can play a role on the development of such disorder.

Risk factors include:

  • Genetics
    • Individuals who have a first-degree relative (i.e. parent or sibling) with OCD, will have a higher chance of suffering from OCD
  • Brain Structure & Functioning
  • Environment
    • Individuals who may have experienced abuse (physical or sexual) in childhood or any other trauma are at a higher risk of developing OCD

How can OCD be treated?

  • Medication
  • Psychotherapy
  • Combination of both

How do I help myself or someone I know cope with OCD?

  • Educate yourself on the subject
  • Be patient; remember everyone has a different rate when recovering
  • Stay on the lookout for the signs such as
    • Avoidance
    • An increase in irritability & indecisiveness
    • Perpetual tardiness
    • Consent questioning about themselves
    • An increase in concern for things
    • Severe & extreme reactions to the smallest things
    • Tasks begin to take longer than usual
    • Their daily life becoming a struggle
    • Staying up late in order to get things done
  • Plan your daily tasks & stay busy
  • Staying organized can help you to better cope with the condition
  • Set recovery goals
  • Find your healthy habits and hobbies

Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

What is ADHD?

It the most commonly diagnosed mental disorder among children, especially boys. However, it can also affect teens and can continue to adulthood. Individuals with ADHD often have a hard time paying attention, they may not be able to control their impulses, or they may be hyperactive.

What are the symptoms in children?

In ADHD, the symptoms are grouped into 2 categories (6 or more of the symptoms must have persisted for a period of 6 months in order for a child to be diagnosed with ADHD):

  • Inattention
    • Fails to pay close attention to details
    • Easily distracted & finds it difficult to maintain their attention on one task
    • Does not appear to listen when someone is directly talking to them
    • Does not follow the instructions that they were indicated
    • Often have trouble organizing tasks
    • Avoids tasks that require sustained mental effort
    • Often loses things
    • Tends to daydream & get distracted
    • Often forgets about daily activities
  • Hyperactivity
    • Often fidgets, squirms, or taps their feet or hands when sitting
    • Does not remain seated when expected to in certain situations
    • Runs and climbs during inappropriate situations
    • Cannot engage in quiet activities
    • Often “on the go,” “driven by a motor”
    • Talks excessively
    • Blurs out answers before the questions has been completed
    • Has a hard time being patient when waiting for their turn
    • Interrupts others

What are the symptoms for adults (5 or more must be persistent within a 6 month period in order to be diagnosed with ADHD)?

  • Anxiety
  • Low self-esteem
  • Chronic lateness and forgetfulness
  • Impulsiveness
  • Unorganized
  • Tends to procrastinate
  • Becomes easily frustrated
  • Often finds themselves in chronic boredom
  • Tends to have problems at work & controlling anger
  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • May have trouble managing their time
  • Have a tard time staying organized & setting goals
  • Are often challenged when it comes to being able to hold a job
  • May have trouble with relationships, addiction, and self-esteem

What causes ADHD?

Although there isn’t one known cause, researchers believe that heredity, chemical imbalance, brain changes, poor nutrition (i.e. infections, smoking, drinking and substance abuse during pregnancy), toxins, brain injury, and a brain disorder may all play a role. Many of these roles often affect an individuals’ development, which in turn may result in ADHD.

How is ADHD treated?

Medication:

  • Dexmethylphenidate
  • Dextroamphetamine
  • Lisdexamfetamine
  • MethylphenidateMedications can help control the hyperactive and impulsive behaviors while increasing an individuals’ attention span.

Therapy:

  • Special Education
    • It is important for children to receive the appropriate education to enhance their learning experience, which may allow them to successfully cope with their ADHD
  • Behavior Modification
    • Allows the individual to replace the bad behaviors with good behaviors
  • Psychotherapy
    • Allows individuals to learn better strategies to help them cope with emotions & frustrations
    • May help improve self-esteem
    • Family counseling can help the individuals’ family to better understand ADHD, which may enhance social support
  • Social Skills Training
    • Can help individuals to better cope with those around them (i.e. they can learn how to take turns & how to share with others)
  • Support Groups
    • Engaging with people who are going through a similar situation can help increase the feeling of acceptance and support

How can I help myself if I have ADHD?

  • Develop a structure & neat habits (stay organized)
    • Create a space for yourself
    • Have a daily planner
    • Use lists
  • Exercise to stay moving
  • Nurture your relationships
  • Educate yourself on ADHD
  • Limit distractions (i.e. make use of noise-canceling headphones)
  • Plan ahead

Bipolar I vs Bipolar II Disorder

It is believed that about 2.5% of the United States population suffers some kind of bipolar disorder (6 million people). Although there are various types of Bipolar Disorder, the more common ones are Bipolar I Disorder and Bipolar II Disorder.

What is Bipolar I Disorder?

To be diagnosed with Bipolar I Disorder, an individual must have had at least one manic episode and one major depressive episode. It is important to note that the major depressive episode must have occurred either before or after the manic episode.

What is a manic episode?

When individual experiences a manic episode, they may experience some of the following:

  • Poor sleep
  • Engage in risky behaviors
  • Have feelings of euphoria
  • They have a hard time concentrating
  • They are restless
  • Possess an exceptional energy
  • Talk fast about a variety of things
  • More active than usual
  • Feeling “jumpy” or “weird”

Note: A manic episode can be so extreme/severe, that an individual may need hospital care. When an individual is under a manic episode, it can be extremely hard to get them to calm down and have them reach a reasonable state. Such episode is so intense that it may interfere with an individuals’ daily life. For instance, individuals may go out shopping and spend more than they can afford to spend or engage in high risky behaviors such as sexual indiscretions. However, if such episodes are caused because of alcohol, drugs, or other health conditions, then the episode cannot be officially considered manic.

What is Bipolar II Disorder?

Unlike Bipolar I, Bipolar II does not typically experience severe manic episodes to the point where an individual may require hospital care. Someone who has Bipolar Disorder II, may experience a major depressive episode that lasts more than 2 weeks and at least one hypomanic episode. In Bipolar II, the “up” moods never reach full-blown mania like in Bipolar I.

What are the symptoms of a hypomanic episode?

  • Suddenly moving from one idea to the next
  • An exaggerated self-confidence
  • An increase in energy and a decrease in the need for sleep

What are the symptoms for a depressive episode (includes Bipolar I and Bipolar II Disorders)?

  • Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, emptiness
  • Suicidal thoughts and death
  • Either a decrease or increase in food consumption
  • Forgetful
  • Have a hard time concentrating
  • Cannot enjoy anything
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Very little energy
  • A decrease in activity levels

What causes Bipolar Disorder?

Although the main cause is not known, it is believed that abnormal physical characteristics of the brain may play a role as well as genetics. If a sibling or a parent is diagnosed with bipolar disorder, then an individual is more likely to develop such disorder. However, severe stress, drug or alcohol abuse, may also trigger the development of bipolar disorder.

How is it treated?

  • Medication
    • Mood stabilizers
    • Antipsychotics
  • Electroconvulsive Therapy
  • Psychotherapy
    • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
    • Family-focused Therapy
    • Psychoeducation
    • Interpersonal & Social Rhythm Therapy

What can I do for myself?

  • Know your triggers & learn how to cope with them
  • Get involved with your treatment
    • Be patient & communicate clearly with your healthcare provider
  • Write a diary
    • It may be helpful to keep track of your moods & other experiences to help yourself and your doctors get a better understanding how the treatment given is working
  • Exercise
  • Create an action plan
    • List your emergency contacts & medications
    • Know your symptoms
  • Develop an active daily routine
    • Avoid long period of isolation
    • Have a strict sleep schedule

Managing Interpersonal Relationship Conflicts

What is the difference between Solvable and Perpetual Problems?

Research has shown that 69% of relationship conflicts are about perpetual problems, meaning that there is little control over them.

All of us at some point in our lives have engaged in a conflict with our romantic partner, a friend, a parent, a sibling, a classmate, or even a co-worker. Moreover, while some of us may take the problem as something simple, for others it may be something quite complex and painful. It is important to know how to manage such conflicts and learn how to work together with the individual and yourself in order to find a solution. However, it is important to note that not all conflicts are solvable, but rather we must learn how to cope with them. We call such unsolvable problem, a perpetual problem.

Now, what is the difference between the two?

Solvable Problems:

A solvable problem is often situational and only about that topic. In most cases, the problem does not have a deeper meaning to neither of the individuals and can therefore, have a solution, be solved, and maintained. Solvable problems may include, but not limited to, housecleaning, discipling children sex, finding a balance between work, friends, and family and in-laws.

Perpetual Problems:

Perpetual problems are problems that are created due to a fundamental difference in either an individuals’ personality or life style needs. In some cases, the topic of such problems can be the exact topics that create a solvable problem. In this case however, the individuals in conflict continue to return to the problem over and over again. For example, a perpetual problem may be religion. You and your friend may always be coming back to a problem because she may want to celebrate something, but those are not your beliefs and therefore, that creates an issue in the friendship that you may be developing. Perpetual problems are often conflicts that cannot be solved, but rather it becomes a learning process as to how we manage them.

Important Note:

While some individuals may seek a problem as solvable, for other it may be perpetual. For example, an in-law may be seen both ways and can be taken as either or. If the problem with the in-law is that they are over too often, that can be solved and maintained by having the conversation of reducing the amount of times they come over. However, if the problem is their personality and the way they are treating you, that may be perceived as a perpetual problem because it’s a fundamental difference in personalities.

Now, what can I do for myself?

  • Learn how to understand yourself and your values
  • Seek a support group
  • Be an effective listener
  • Take some time for yourself

If you want to learn more on how to manage interpersonal relationships and conflict, the different techniques on how to cope with both solvable and perpetual problems, learn more about our upcoming support group and join at

https://venturacommunitycounseling.com/managing-interpersonal-relationships-support-group/

Depersonalization and Derealization Disorder

What is Depersonalization/Derealization disorder?

Do you ever feel that things around you are not real? It is estimated that about 50% of the population experiences at least once in their lifetime a moment of derealization and depersonalization. However, only about 2% actually have the criteria for such disorder. Derealization or depersonalization disorder is diagnosed when you repeatedly have feelings that the outside world is not real, or you believe to be observing yourself from outside your body. Often, individuals with derealization/depersonalization feel as if they were living in a dream and can have a hard time identifying their reality. Although many of us at some point may have had such experience, that doesn’t mean we have such disorder. One may have such disorder if the derealization keeps occurring, if it completely never goes away, or it begins to interfere with your daily life. It is important to note that such disorder usually begins in mid to late teens or early adulthood and that it is rare among children and older adults.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms for depersonalization may include the following:

  • Feeling that you’re an outside observer of your own thoughts, body parts, feelings, etc.
  • Feeling a lack of control in your speech or movement
  • Sense of memories lacking emotion

Symptoms of derealization may include:

  • Feelings of being unfamiliar with your own surroundings
  • Feeling an emotional disconnection from loved ones
  • Distortions in perceptions of time
  • Surrounding may feel distorted, blurry, or colorless, for example
  • May experience distortions of distance, size, and shape

It is also important to note that such symptoms may last hours, days, weeks, and even months. Also, such disorder can cause difficulty in concentrating on tasks, remembering things, may create problems in relationships (i.e. friends and families), may cause a sense of hopelessness, and may interfere with daily life activities (i.e. work and school).

What are some risk factors that may trigger such disorder?

  • Certain personality traits (i.e. avoiding or denying difficult situations)
  • Severe trauma (including witnessing)
  • Severe stress (i.e. financial, work, or relationships)
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Using recreational drugs

What causes depersonalization/derealization disorder?

The exact known cause is not yet known. However, it is believed that both genetic and environmental factors may play a role.

How is such disorder treated?

One can receive medication, but the main treatment used to manage such disorder is psychotherapy, which can help you improve the following:

  • Understand the reason why such disorder occurs
  • Learn ways to cope with your symptoms
  • Learn techniques that will keep you distracted from your symptoms
  • Will be able to address the emotions related to the trauma experienced
  • Will help you address other mental conditions that may affect such disorder as well

How can I help myself, or someone I know, cope with such disorder?

  • Follow your treatment plan
  • Learn and become knowledgeable about your condition. Ask questions.
  • Connect with others
    • Maintain that connection with those who support you (i.e. friends, family, faith leaders)

When talking to your doctor, below are some questions that you may want to ask:

  • What is causing my symptoms? Are there other causes?
  • Do I need to take any additional tests to prove the diagnosis?
  • What treatments are there available? Is there one that you would recommend?
  • Do I need to see a specialist?
  • Do you have any brochures that I can take with me so that I can learn more about what it is? Are there any websites that you recommend?
  • Do you have any additional recommendations?

Are you having trouble coping to a new change or situation?

What is Adjustment Disorder?

Do you have a hard time coping with a stress in your life? For example, the death of a loved one or divorce. Adjustment Disorder is a type of short-term condition when an individual is having a hard time coping or adjusting to a source of stress. It is believed that individuals with such disorder tend to have similar symptoms to those who may have clinical depression however, unlike clinical depression, individuals with Adjustment Disorder don’t experience as much physical and emotional symptoms. Also, symptoms usually begin within three months of the source or stress, but do not last longer than 6 months after the situation or event.

It is important to note that Adjustment Disorder can develop at any age regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, or lifestyle. However, it is more prevalent when major transitions occur such as adolescence, mid-life, and/or late-life (i.e. elderly).

What are the symptoms of Adjustment Disorder?

  • Feeling of hopelessness & sadness
  • Worry
  • Frequent crying
  • Headaches or stomachaches
  • Feeling tired or without energy
  • There is an increase on alcohol & drug consumption
  • Experience problems with sleeping
  • Avoid people & social activities
  • Anxiety
  • There is a change in appetite
  • Muscles twitching or trembling
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Indigestion
  • Body pain or soreness

What triggers/causes such disorder?

  • Death of a loved one
  • General life changes (i.e. a job, city, neighborhood, or changes in school)
  • Divorce or any problems within a relationship
  • Illness that may involve either yourself or a loved one
  • Unexpected catastrophes (i.e. earthquake, tornado, tsunami)
  • Family or school problem
  • Sexuality issues (more common among teenagers and young adults)

How is Adjustment Disorder treated?

  • Psychotherapy (most common way of treatment)
    • Interpersonal therapy
    • Crisis intervention
    • Cognitive Behavioral therapy
    • Family & Group Therapies
  • Support groups
    • It can be helpful to talk about ones’ problems with others who are experiencing the same stress
  • Medication (some cases)
    • May help control anxiety symptoms and sleeping problems

How can Adjustment Disorder be prevented?

There is not one known cause that may help with the prevention of Adjustment Disorder however, strong social and family support may play a big part in the way you may handle the stressor. Also, establishing a good self-esteem, looking for the positive humor during tough times, and living a healthy life can contribute to the prevention of the disorder.

How do I help myself cope with such disorder?

  • Avoid stress
    • If you are aware that you’re are moving for example, don’t take up additional responsibilities that you know it may be not realistic for you to complete
  • Start a healthy habit
    • Mediate
    • Exercise
    • Journal your thoughts
    • Force yourself to think positive
  • Utilize your social support
    • Talk to your family and friends even if it is just to vent
  • Go beyond your circle
    • Join a support group
    • Seek counseling/therapy

 

Parent-Child Relational Problem

What is the Parent-Child Relational Problem?

Do you have trouble with your parent or child, but do not know why? The Parent-Child Relational Problem serves to describe the difficulties created between a child and a parent often communication and challenging interactions. Such problem can occur at any time during the child’s development however, it is more likely to occur during adolescence.

It is important to note that the “parent” is whoever is considered as their primary caregiver.

It is important to note that such problem is not considered a mental disorder however, some behaviors that can be found or created because of the conflict can result and be associate with other psychiatric conditions. Such problem tends to rather be associated with impaired functioning in behavioral, cognitive, or affective domains. For example, there is an inadequate parental control, supervision or there is a lack of involvement with the child. Also, there may tend to be arguments that escalate to the point where there may be threats of physical violence as well as negative attributions of the other’s intentions may be involved. Furthermore, affective problems may include, but are not limited to feelings of sadness, or anger, for example, towards the other individual that may be part of the relationship.

What causes such problem?

To this day, there is not a concrete known cause yet. However, the following are risk factors that are thought to influence the relationships built between a parent and a child:

  • Family conflict
    • Lack of structure & discipline
  • Too much parental control
  • Marital conflict
    • Divorce or separation. However, the parents’ ability to cope with the change will affect the way the child copes the situation on his own
  • Maternal depression (i.e. postpartum depression)
    • If the mother experiences such depression, the child has a higher risk of development, emotional, and behavioral problems
  • Father involvement
    • Positive cognitive, developmental, and socio-behavioral child outcomes are associated with the visible and nurturing presence of the father
  • Poverty
  • Neglect or abandonment
  • Residential instability
  • A chronically ill or disabled child
  • An undiagnosed psychological or developmental problem (i.e. ADHD, autism)
  • Fragile emotional temperament in the child
  • Large families
  • Family stress (i.e. working parents, household chores, job dissatisfaction)
  • Peer pressures
  • Violence at home
  • Trauma (i.e. child abuse)
  • Parental illness, physical illness, alcohol, substance abuse or re-marriage/stepfamilies

What are the symptoms of such problem occurring?

  • Lack of communication
  • Yelling
  • Lack of respect for one another and constantly interrupting one another
  • Verbal aggression
  • Physical abuse

How can my relationship with my parent or child improve? How can it be managed?

  • Seek treatment such as psychological treatment, family therapy, engage in relaxation techniques
  • Receive parental education and training
  • Help yourself
  • Seek social support
  • Marriage guidance
  • Seek prevention program
    • May enhance co-parental relationship, parental mental health, parent-child relationship, and infant emotional and physiological regulation

Persistent Depressive Disorder

What is Persistent Depressive Disorder?

The National Institute of Mental health estimates that such disorder affects 1.5% of the adult population in the United States and about 11.2% of the population between 13 to 18 years of age. Although it is not as severe as major depression, Persistent Depressive Disorder or dysthymia, is a chronic ongoing type of depression. Individuals who have such disorder lose interest in their daily life activities and in most cases, they also have a hard time being “upbeat” even when a happy occasion is presented. It is important to note that such feelings can last for years and that it is believed that girls are more likely to experience any type of depressive disorder than boys.

Other symptoms:

  • Feel hopeless, sadness, emptiness, and are constantly feeling down
  • There is a lack of energy & are tired
  • Have low self-esteem, self-criticism, or may feel incapable of doing tasks, for example
  • Have a hard time concentrating and making decisions
  • Excessive anger and irritability
  • There is a decrease in activity, effectiveness, and productivity
  • Avoid social activities
  • Poor appetite or overeating
  • Often have feelings of guilt
  • Worry over the past
  • Have trouble sleeping

It is also important to note that such symptoms can cause a significant impairment on individuals and that they usually come and go over a period of years. However, systems usually don’t tend to disappear for more than two months.

What causes Persistent Depressive Disorder?

Although there is not one known exact cause, it is believed that biological differences, brain chemistry, inherited traits, and life events may have an influence in the development of the disorder.  It is believed that people who suffer from persistent depressive disorder experience physical changes in their brains. Also, an individual is more likely to develop the disorder if someone in their family has previously been diagnosed with it as well as a loss of a loved one, financial problems, or high stress can also play a role in the development. An individuals’ negativity, their low self-esteem and being too dependent of others may also contribute to the risk factors of such disorders.

What effect does it have in an individual’s life?

  • Reduction in quality life
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions
  • Chronic pain along with general medical illnesses
  • Difficulty forming relationships with family and friends
  • Substance abuse
  • May cause other depressive disorders

How can I reduce the chances of developing Persistent Depressive Disorder?

Although for some people there will not be a way to prevent such disorder, for others there may be. It is important for an individual to take control of the stress they experience and learn how to cope with it. Also, reach out to friends and family, start receiving treatment the moment you begin to see signs, and consider keeping such treatment for a while.

How can it be treated and what can I do for myself?

  • Seek help from your primary care physical
  • Keep a log of your systems for a few weeks so that your doctor can get a better understanding
  • Establish a sleep pattern
  • Exercise daily
  • Take care of what you eat
  • Practice self-care
  • Medication (i.e. SSRIs, TCAs and SNRIs)
  • Psychotherapy (main recommendation for children and adolescents)
    • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
    • Family Therapy
    • Group therapy
    • Process Oriented Talk Therapy
  • Benefits of Psychotherapy:
    • Learn how to manage the symptoms and crisis
    • Identify the triggers and learn coping strategies
    • Replace negative beliefs with positive ones
    • Improve your self-esteem
    • Setting and attaining personal goals