Determining whether or not a person has dysthymia may begin with a questionnaire. The Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression and the Patient Health Questionnaire are two common assessment tools. Research indicates that dysthymia is undertreated. In other words, your family doctor may not be equipped to diagnose the problem effectively: a specialist may be in order [source: Harvard Health Publications].
Types of treatments for dysthymia can be divided into two broad categories: drug treatment and psychotherapy (or talk therapy).
Drug treatments involve the use of medications that alter chemicals in the brain associated with mood. Medications commonly used include Prozac, Zoloft and Effexor [source: Harvard Health Publications]. Some people 18 to 24 years of age may be at greater risk of suicide when taking these drugs, so monitoring a patient's symptoms is very important [sources: Mayo Clinic].
Psychotherapy or talk therapy can be used in conjunction with drug treatments or alone. Talking through the components of dysthymia and recognizing its symptoms can help a patient prepare for and deal with its effects. Therapy can also give an otherwise isolated person a comforting and sympathetic environment in which to share feelings and experiences without being concerned about negative outcomes of the conversation, such as stigmatization and even more isolation.
For more information, visit the links and resources on the next page.