Abnormal Psychology: Dsythimic Depressive Disorder and the Female Army Soldier

Abnormal Psychology: Dsythimic Depressive Disorder and the Female Army Soldier

Table of Contents

Abstract 3

Introduction. 4

The DSM IV and Dysthymia. 4

Diagnostic Criteria. 5

Cultural influence of Dysthymia. 5

The 4Ds -Distress, Deviance, Dysfunction and Danger of Dysthymia. 7

Models of Abnormality Associated With Dysthymia. 8

Prevention and Treatment of Dysthymia. 10

Pharmaceutical Medications. 11

The Distinct Nature of Dysthymia Disorder among Female Soldiers. 11

Prognosis for Dysthymia. 12

Summary. 13

References. 14






Dysthymia is a common disorder among female soldiers in the US as well as other places. Basically, the dysthimia disorder is characterized by low moods, stress, and a general feeling of loneliness, and unworthiness. This paper discusses dysthymia, the causes of the disorder, its prognosis of the dysthimia, and its signs and symptoms.  The paper further discusses the disorder according to the level of Distress, Deviance, Dysfunction and Danger for a person diagnosed with this disorder. Moreover, the paper discusses the treatment procedure, the cultural considerations in the treatment and therapy, the models of abnormality that explain the dysthymia disorder, and the treatment procedure for the disorder. Finally, the paper will give a brief synopsis of the dsythymia disorder, and on doing research undertakings on how to improve treatment and handle patients with the dysthymia disorder effectively.


Dysthymia disorder refers to depressive disorders that are characterized by relatively mild but long long-term symptoms. Dysthymia is closely related to depression. However, dysthymia is often characterized by mild depressive conditions. However, dysthymia disorder tends to cause long term effects on the patients compared to full blown depression. The horrible work encounters at the military has made dysthymia depressive disorder to be common among female army soldiers.

Signs and Symptoms of Dysthymia

Dysthymia patients usually suffer from health complications such as low physical strength, fatigue and withdrawal from leisure activities. In addition, dysthymia patients usually suffer from low self esteem. In serious cases, dysthymia patients may withdraw from normal interactions and daily other daily activities. Moreover, dysthymia disorder may make people to develop continuous anxiety, and to avoid things that may make them to fail pin life.

Generally, it is often difficult to diagnose dysthymia because most of its symptoms are often restrained, faint and unclear. The situation is often more difficult to detect in patients who suffer from a myriad of social challenges (Ravindran, 1999). Similarly, dysthymia usually takes place alongside other psychological disorders. Therefore, identifying dysthymia infections in such scenarios are often difficult. Often, dysthymia patients are often more vulnerable to suicide cases, homicide, and other dangerous behaviors. This is because dysthymia disorder is often associated with a lot of stress and psychological disturbance.



The DSM IV and Dysthymia

Moreover, the “diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders” (DSM) is a typical categorization criterion of mental disarrays that is usually employed by mental health experts in the U.S. The manual can be used by experts to handle diverse cases in mental health (Brown, 1994). The manual is used in a variety of ways. First and foremost, the manual enable mental health experts to classify the diagnosis of a given disorder. Diagnostic classification involves assessing the symptoms outlined in the manual code to identify the symptoms which are compatible with the symptoms exhibited by a particular patient (Brown, 1994). Normally, the diagnostic manual contains a comprehensive list of diagnostic criteria sets which enables mental health professionals to diagnose health disorders accurately.

Diagnostic Criteria

Continuous mood fluctuations are one of the symptoms of dysthymia. Dysthymia patients usually experience an incessant mood swings. Normally, a continuous mood swing for two years may imply that one is infected with dysthymia. Moreover, those who are infected with dysthymia often lose appetite. Dysthymia patients further from two extra ordinary sleeping: insomnia or hypersomnia. At the same time, dysthymia patients usually suffer from poor decision making abilities. In other words, people who suffer from dysthymia usually find it difficult to make constructive decisions, especially when they are forced to make such decisions under pressure. Consequently, dysthymia patients usually develop pessimistic attitude about most issues in life.

Cultural influence of Dysthymia

Globalization and the internalization of medical services have made it necessary to consider cultural factors when administering treatment for dysthymia disorders. This is because some depressive dysnthymia is attributed to some cultural factors. In the western cultures, the issue of dysthymia disorder has been a major health challenge over the years. Initially, the western society used the term melancholy was used to describe depression and the side effects associated with the term.

The word melancholy was first used in Greece Christian society to describe a set of social disorders characterized by anxiety, edginess, and gloom. However, Brieger & Marneros (1997) noted that the term depression was coined in the 17th century to describe the entire set of depression and other health side effects associated with the disease. Depression is an English word which was coined from the Latin word “diprimere’ which means “to press down”. Therefore, the Englishmen belies that any feeling that pulls down one’s mood and social worth can be categorized as depression.

Often, it is believed that the Judao- Christian focus on socio – religious issues such as sin, remorse, shame, and triviality is the main reason that increased incidences of depression among the western world population. This implies that effective therapy and medication of dysthymia should consider such factors implicitly. Overall, the Western society has, over the years, focused on the use and application of genetic and psychological approaches in the study of depression while underestimating the value of ethnocultural disparity in the assessment, analysis, and treatment of dysthymia.

The confusion surrounding the definition of depression makes the diagnosis, assessment and treatment of dysthymia patients to be complicated. Whereas depression refers to a set of health disorder; it may also refer to a wide range of social experiences and consequences associated with other social disorders. Moreover, further complication results from mood, symptom, and syndrome are often discussed in diverse social contexts apart from in dysthymia infections. Consequently, it is often difficult to diagnose dysthymia infections accurately. In general, the assessment and diagnosis, and treatment of dysthymia disorder vary from one culture to another.

In Asian societies, for instance, dysthymia patients are often isolated and stigmatized by other members of the society. Unfortunately, such unfair treatment often makes dysthymia patients to regard depression as a personal fault, and as a moral flaw. This implies that medical personnel who serve Asian women should enable such patients to understand the fact that depression is a health disorder, and is not a sign of personal flaw. According to a study conducted by Chen, Chen, & Chung (2002), it was found that Asian Americans tend to have higher suicide rate compared to other women in the United States.

The study further concluded that “when treating Asian patients, it is helpful to frame depression as a medical illness with signs and symptoms caused by a neurochemical imbalance in the brain” (Chen, Chen, & Chung, 2002). Overall, medical personnel should possess relevant communication skills and have considerable knowledge in the patient’s language to allow them provide effective and efficient services to such patients. For instance, Chen, Chen & Chung (2002) noted that engaging medical practitioners with sufficient knowledge in the Asian cultural communication is a vital prerequisite in the treatment of dysthymia patients’ Asian origin.

The 4Ds -Distress, Deviance, Dysfunction and Danger of Dysthymia


Deviance involves defining depression based on an approach that evaluates the extent to which an individual’s emotional behavior deviates from that of an average normal person. In other words, deviance involves assessing the abnormal traits that makes the emotional to be different from that of the normal person (Gielen & Stevens, 2007). The deviance theorem may also involve assessing the mental health of an individual by analyzing social behaviors which break or violate the social norms of the society.


Distress is concerned with the use of the suffering of an individual as a decisive factor in the assessment of dysthymia. Based on such approach, experience anguish is considered to be anomalous.


A person who suffers from dysthymia can also be diagnosed by assessing the level at which such an individual is able to accomplish the family roles. In this regard, people who find it difficult to accomplish the normal socioeconomic obligations in the family may be considered to be abnormal.

Dangers of Dysthymia Disorder among Female Soldiers

The dysthymia disorder is usually associated with other health disorders such as anorexia nervosa and post traumatic stress disorder. Moreover, the disease might also health complications such as panic disorder, bulimia nervosa and social phobia. Although alcoholic, smoking and drug abuse increases the tendency of dysthymia infections, such substances affects men more compared to women.

Models of Abnormality Associated With Dysthymia

Various models are often sued to explain dysthymia infection. The first model is known as the supernatural powers model. According to the supernatural model, dysthymoia infection is considered to be a result of supernatural powers (Gielen & Stevens, 2007). The supernatural model was generally common among different cultures prior to the middle age period. However, today, the model is still employed in very few cultures in different parts of the world.

The Biophysical model

The biophysical approach upholds that dysthymia disorder results from a mixture of different factors such as genetic factors, psychosomatic processes, and socio-cultural circumstances. Today, most medical experts use the biophysical model to diagnose and treat dysthymia infections. According to Gielen & Stevens (2007), the medical model upholds that dysthymia disorders results from distortions in the biochemical composition in body fluids and biological processes in the body. As such, the medical model upholds that psysthymia disorders should be treated using medical procedures such as use of drugs (Gielen & Stevens, 2007). Today, the medical model is known as the neurobiologiocal model because it involves the analysis of the genetic processes, and how such processes influence biological processes.

Psychological Model

The psychological model view psychological disorders as the result of psychological factors such as learning experiences and emotional well being. As such, emotional disorders such as dysthymia are considered to result from a conflict between instinctual needs and the expectations of the society (Gielen & Stevens, 2007). On the other hand, social-cognitive (social learning) philosophers believe that emotional distress and depression are forms of learned behaviors, thoughts, and expectations. The humanistic or phenomenological model considers dysthymia and other abnormal behaviors as obstacles that hinder the emotional and social growth of an individual. The socio-cultural approach

The socio-cultural approach upholds that psychological and emotional disorders are caused by socio-cultural factors such as values, norms, and social beliefs.

Diathesis- Stress Model and Integrative Explanation

The diathesis stress model incorporates diverse models such as biological, socio-    ecultural, and psychological approaches to analyze, assess, diagnose and treat dysthymia disorder. The diathesis stress model upholds that although inherent biological factors and life experiences can cause a diathesis for dysthymia, such conditions require a given amount of stress to get triggered.

Prevention and Treatment of Dysthymia

The initial symptoms of dysthymia usually occur during child hood. Consequently, children with dysthymia symptoms can be offered special care by psychiatrists and other relevant professionals in order to assist them to overcome the effects of dysthymia disorders (Markowitz, 1994). For instance, professionals may assist children with dysthymia disorders to adopt strategies which enhance their self esteem, enable them to manage stress, and enhance their decision making abilities. Such approach may enable professionals to control the dysthymia attacks from escalating to full blown dysthymia infection.

Dysthymia can be treated effectively by carrying out psychotherapy. The most effective treatment approach for dysthymia is the empirically based treatment such as cognitive – behavioral therapy (Hayden & Klein, 2001). Such kind of therapy usually fights dysthymia effectively because over time, the treatment approach can dispel the dysthymia disorder effectively. Nonetheless, factors which may have caused the disorder in an individual should also be understood. Such understanding can enable dysthymia patients to adopt a positive lifestyle that can make the therapy process to be more effective. The disorder can also be treated using psychodynamic psychotherapy and the interpersonal therapy. Moreover, the dysthymia disorder treatment process can be enhanced using group psychotherapy or organized support groups. Through such groups, dysthymia patients can be able to manage challenges such as low self esteem, inability to forge healthy social relationships, and cognitive restructuring.

Pharmaceutical Medications

The SSRI is the initial type of treatment that is often used to treat dysthymia patients. Generally, the SSRI treatment is preferred because they have low side effects compared to the monoamine oxidase medication. The most frequently used dysthymia antidepressants include fluoxetine and fluvoxamine. Most patients take between 6–8 weeks before they begin to feel the therapeutic impacts of the drugs (Thase et al, 1996). However, dysthymia patients are often advised to use different variety of drugs in order to enable them to find the best brand that fits their situation. Nonetheless, it is necessary to combine therapy and antidepressant medication in order to get required results. The psychotherapist will assist in determining the causes and impacts of the dysthymia disorder while the use of antidepressant often enable patients to get quick recovery from the effects of dysthymia.

The Distinct Nature of Dysthymia Disorder among Female Soldiers

The biochemistry set up of women’s brains makes them to be more vulnerable to dysthymia infections compared to men. Scientists have used the magnetic resonance imaging to observe that the brain structure for female dysthymia patients is usually different from that of their male counterparts (Skomorovsky, 2013). At the same time, there are particular hormones which impact the operation of the female brain at some point of their life. As a result, it affects the female moods and their tendency to get the dysthymia disorder. Such factors make female soldiers to be more vulnerable to dysthymia infections compared to male soldiers (Skomorovsky, 2013). Normally, most military assignments involve horrible encounters. Consequently, female soldiers usually suffer more due to post trauma social disorder compared to men. At the same time, female soldiers are often more vulnerable to dysthymia conditions when they are undergoing menstrual periods, and during the pre and the postpartum period.

Dysthymia: A Historical background

Dysthymia has been a common problem among female soldiers and other women in the society. According to Freeman (1994), there is a distinction between dysthymia and cyclothymia disorder. Globalization and the internalization of medical services have made cultural consideration to be an essential aspect in the identification, diagnosis, and treatment of dysthymia disorders. This is because certain depressive dysthymia are attributed to particular cultures which associate the disorder with different cultural beliefs. For instance, in the western cultures, the issue of dysthymia disorder has been a major health challenge over the years. Initially, the western society used the term melancholy to describe depression and the side effects associated with the term (Skomorovsky, 2013). In such cases, dysthymia disorders could be considered as some form of depression and not necessarily a complex disorder that needs to be handled urgently and with care.

Prognosis for Dysthymia

Generally, dysthymia disorder occurs in different phases. In most cases, those who experience dysthymia disorder at one point in time are likely to experience similar cases in the future. Nonetheless, Hellestein (2001) notes that most dysthymia patients tend to recover from the disorder fast if the treatment is administered effectively. Although both placebo and other depressants could be used to control the dysthymia infections effectively, antidepressants often function more effectively in cases where dysthymia patients have serious complications. However, in most cases, medical experts usually use different medical approaches if a single approach does not give effective results.


Dysthymia is a common health disorder among female soldiers. The disorder is often associated with symptoms such as fluctuating moods, low self esteem, and pessimistic feelings. In most cases, it is hard to identify and diagnose patients with this kind of health disorder. This is because there are several social conditions which result into mood swings, low self esteem, and other mental disorders thereby making it hard to particularly settle on dysthymia as the main cause of these conditions to a patient. Generally, Dysthymia patients usually suffer from symptoms such as low physical strength, fatigue, withdrawal from leisure activities, and low self esteem. In more serious cases, dysthymia patients may withdraw from normal interactions and daily other daily activities. Moreover, dysthymia disorder may make people to develop continuous anxiety, and to avoid things that may make them to fail pin life. As such, it is often difficult to assess whether a given disorder is dysthymia.

However, more studies are being conducted on how to formulate effective treatment procedures for dysthymia patients. Essentially, ongoing studies have found that a combination of therapy and antidepressants can treat dysthymia patients effectively. Despite such finding, it would be important for medical practitioners to conduct intensive research in order to find out the right procedure that could be used to administer such treatment appropriately. Moreover, more research is being conducted in order establish more effective means which can be used to identify and diagnose dysthymia patients. Such studies will assist military medical professionals to handle dysthymia cases more effectively, efficiently and professionally.




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