May 17, 2010


Summary: There's a fine line between depression and dysthymia. Learn about that line--and this word--today!

Blue. Sad. Down. Listless. These feeling words all describe one thing: mild depression.

They can describe more serious depression, too, however each by itself--without modifier words like very, terribly, etc.--conveys a more basic or moderate emotional level. It's raining in my city today, and I woke up with a sinus infection. I'm feeling a little listless, myself.

But I wouldn't qualify my emotions as dysthymic. (Maybe it helps that I'm using a full spectrum light in my office space, flush with vitamin D, and that I gave myself an extra hour of sleep this morning.)

"What is dysthymia?" you ask. Allow me to explain:

Entering the English language in the 1840s from New Latin, dysthymia (DIS - THY - mee - uh) is a medical term for a mood disorder marked by chronic mild depression and irritability; symptoms include eating and sleeping disturbances, fatigue, and poor self-esteem. Contemporary treatments for dysthymia are commonly formed by a combination of anti-depressants and/or anti-anxiety medications with psychotherapy.

To learn more about how depression affects the brain, click here to watch a video by pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline. (If your computer will not play the video, you can read the voiceover commentary in the text bar to the right of the image.)

© KiKi Productions, Inc. 2010

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