Women: Are You Depressed? Dysthymia?

When it comes to depression, women report many more depressive episodes than men do. Some describe being depressed almost as a female trait as opposed to a male trait. We are not talking about “bad hair days” or a couple of days of feeling down about something. We are talking about major depression. The following are symptoms of a major depressive episode.

Criteria for a major depressive episode.

A person must exhibit either of the following almost daily for at least a two week period. 1. A persistent sad or depressed mood. 2. Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in usually pleasurable activities. 3. Plus at least any four of the following:

  • significant weight loss or atypically, weight gain
  • insomnia, hypersomnia, or early morning awakening
  • psychomotor agitation or retardation
  • decreased energy or fatigue
  • feelings of hopelessness, guilt, worthlessness or helplessness
  • difficulty thinking, concentrating, remembering or making decisions
  • recurrent thoughts of death, a suicide attempt, or a specific plan for suicide.

Source: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, American Psychiatric Association, Washington, D.C., 1994 If this describes you, please seek professional help!

Dysthymia: Chronic, low-grade depression

There is another side to depression. Many women have chronic, low-grade, depression, also known as dysthymia. It impairs quality of life for millions of people. Michael E.Thase, MD and Susan S. Lang, authors of Beating the Blues: New Approaches to Overcoming Dysthymia and Chronic Mild Depression, write, “It is not normal to be apathetic, passive, glum, sad, irritable, joyless, hopeless, helpless, or negative, even for relatively brief periods of time.” Chronic mild depression is a highly treatable condition but, without treatment, it can last for years and rarely gets better on its own.

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