When I was finally diagnosed with depression at age 27, after twenty years of suffering from one type of depressive disorder or another, it was because I was going through a major depression at that particular time. It was only the third major depression I had experienced, and all three had occurred after the age of twenty. For all their ferocity, however, I don’t feel that the major depressions did the most damage to my social life, the direction my life took and my psyche. Without question, that honor is reserved for the dysthymia that had been a part of my life, and a part of me, since I was seven.
For much of my childhood and young adulthood, I suffered from depression. Although I did have some periods of major depression, the bulk of the time my depression was a type called dysthymia.
Dysthymia is a low-grade form of depression that lasts at least two years, with symptom free periods lasting no longer than two months. Other symptoms, which are similar to those of major depression, can include:
- Poor appetite or overeating
- Insomnia or hypersomnia
- Low energy or fatigue
- Low self-esteem
- Poor concentration
- Feelings of hopelessness