Have you struggled with feeling down for a few years, maybe even since childhood? Something just isn’t quite right. You feel irritable, hopeless, lethargic and low in self-esteem. This was true of Robin. He didn’t realize he was depressed and just thought his down feelings were part of his personality. But daily, he struggled to get out of bed and fully engage in life.
Robin suffers from a mild depression called dysthymia. It runs in families and can worsen if not treated. It can linger for years because it is a chronic, low-grade depression. With it may come appetite changes, low energy, sleep difficulties, low self-esteem and feelings of helplessness.
This type of depression is treatable. Antidepressants work for about one third of people with dysthymia. You may have to experiment with medications until you find one that is effective. Talk therapy looks at the roots of depression. Children who have been abused or experienced trauma are at risk. Major life stress can also trigger dysthymia in adults–a recent loss, difficult circumstance, relationship problems, etc. Cognitive behavioral therapy helps train you to redirect your negative thoughts. Exercise and family support are also helpful.
Spiritually, depression often leads to feeling hopeless. With God, nothing is beyond repair and healing.
Dr. Linda Mintle writes the Doing Life Together blog for Beliefnet.