Do you have dysthymia? Have you even heard of it? Not many have, so let’s take a look at what this persistent depressive disorder is, and how it’s affecting mamas.
By Harper Steele
When it comes to motherhood, there are many challenges and emotions that come along with it. However, when these feelings of sadness or despair persist, it may be indicative of something deeper.
Dysthymia, also known as Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD), is a long-term form of depression that can have significant effects on a mother’s life. Understanding its implications and learning how to seek help can make all the difference. So let’s take a deeper look.
“DYSTHYMIA, OR PERSISTENT DEPRESSIVE DISORDER, IS MORE THAN JUST FEELING BLUE. FOR MOTHERS, IT CAN BE AN UNENDING STRUGGLE THAT AFFECTS EVERY ASPECT OF LIFE. RECOGNISING THE SIGNS AND SEEKING HELP IS ESSENTIAL, NOT ONLY FOR THE WELLBEING OF THE MOTHER BUT ALSO FOR THE FAMILY AS A WHOLE.”
What is Dysthymia?
Dysthymia is a chronic type of depression characterised by a persistent low mood lasting for at least two years. Unlike major depression, where symptoms can be severe but may come and go, dysthymia’s symptoms are often less intense but more enduring. This can make it challenging to diagnose and treat, as the symptoms can become a seemingly normal part of one’s daily life.
Impact on Mothers
Motherhood brings a whirlwind of emotions and responsibilities, and the constant pressure to be the perfect mother can be overwhelming. Dysthymia can magnify these feelings and create a lingering cloud of sadness that permeates daily life. Here’s how it may manifest:
- Constant fatigue: Mums already juggle many roles. Add persistent fatigue to the mix, and it becomes even more daunting.
- Difficulty in bonding: A lack of joy and interest can make bonding with a child more difficult, leading to feelings of guilt and inadequacy.
- Struggles with self-care: Taking care of oneself becomes secondary, leading to possible neglect of personal wellbeing and health.
- Impact on relationships: A constant low mood can strain relationships with partners, family, and friends.
How to Recognise Dysthymia
Identifying dysthymia can be challenging because symptoms might not feel severe or obvious. They may include:
- Chronic feelings of sadness or hopelessness.
- Lack of interest or pleasure in daily activities.
- Trouble concentrating or making decisions.
- Changes in sleeping and eating habits.
- Feelings of inadequacy or guilt.
If these symptoms persist, it is essential to seek professional help. But how do you take that step?
Asking for help
For mamas battling dysthymia, asking for help is not a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of strength. Here’s how you can take that crucial step:
- Recognise the problem: Understanding that what you are experiencing isn’t normal and that you need help is the first step towards healing.
- Talk to someone you trust: Sometimes, opening up to a friend or family member can be the encouragement needed to seek professional help.
- Consult a mental health professional: A mental health professional can accurately diagnose and help you through personalised therapy.
- Join support groups: Sometimes, talking to others who are going through the same situation can be incredibly healing.
- Create a supportive environment: Letting your family and friends know what you need and how they can support you can create a nurturing space for recovery.
Support from Society
Society needs to recognise and support mothers, especially those battling mental health issues like dysthymia. This means:
Eradicating stigma: Encouraging open dialogue about mental health can help break the stigma and make it easier for mothers to seek help.
Providing accessible mental health care: Making mental health care affordable and accessible ensures that help is within reach for those who need it.
Encouraging work/life balance: Employers must understand and support the needs of working mothers, allowing flexibility and empathy.
Dysthymia, or Persistent Depressive Disorder, is more than just feeling blue. For mothers, it can be an unending struggle that affects every aspect of life. Recognising the signs and seeking help is essential, not only for the wellbeing of the mother but also for the family as a whole.
Remember, it takes a village to raise a child, and that village must include support for mental health. For mothers with dysthymia, understanding, empathy, and professional care can be the keys to a more joyful and fulfilling life. If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, don’t hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional. Help is available, and recovery is possible.
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