Mood Disorders: Bipolar vs Dysthymia
Bipolar Disorder and Dysthymia both fall under the category of Mood Disorders. Mood Disorders include depressive disorders. Major Depressive Disorder which is a single episode of depression and Dysthymia which is a depressed state that is chronic and relatively continual. This contrasts with Bipolar Disorder which is associated with episodes of both depression and mania. It is true they have common symptoms. These commonalities include: sleeplessness, difficulties concentrating, and social withdrawal. Still, they are two distinct conditions.
Dysthymia Disorder is a constant depressed state that leads to low self-esteem, pessimism, and possible feelings of guilt. The fact that the depression can last for years causes high levels of fatigue. The depressive state can lead to a loss of appetite or it can cause overeating. In short, having Dysthymia Disorder is living in a mostly constant state of depression that can last for years.
Bipolar Disorder is cyclic. There are times of depression and times of mania or even hypomania. You're either depressed or your on top of the world. The hypomania is marked by delusions of grandeur, decreased need for sleep, inability to focus, and it can lead to problems socializing. Bipolar Disorder is categorized as Bipolar I or Bipolar II. Patients who exhibit only symptoms of mania are diagnosed with Bipolar and it is accepted that the depressive state has simply not manifest itself.
Lithium is often used to treat Bipolar Disorder however it is not as commonly prescribed for Dysthymia. Dysthymia is most often treated with antidepressant medications such as Zoloft. There are also some types of natural treatments such as St. John's Wort, acupuncture, and yoga that can be used to treat depression. These treatments are intended to be used in conjunction with the presecription meds and it is unknown as to how well they may help. The addition of natural treatments has been known to cause mania in some patients.
Dysthymia and Bipolar Disorder have common possible causes. This can be genetic, environmental, or biological. There has been research that shows that both Dysthymia and Bipolar Disorder can be hereditary. Suffering a loss in the family or experiencing some sort of life changing event can also be a cause of both. Changes in hormone or neurotransmitter levels can lead to either Dysthymia or Bipolar Disorder.
The main thing to remember is that Dysthymia is unipolar as it deals with a constant state of depression that continues for long periods of time. Bipolar is cyclic and causes the person to cycle between extreme highs and lows.