Description, Causes and Risk Factors:
Dysphoria is a mental condition that involves depression and apathy, and can sometimes lead to suicide, especially when those in a dysphoric mood are agitated or sleep-deprived. Dysphoria is medically recognized as a mental and emotional condition in which a person experiences intense feelings of depression, discontent and indifference to the world around them. Mood disorders can induce dysphoria, often with a heightened risk of suicide, especially in persons with bipolar disorder who are in a depressive phase.
The causes of dysphoria can vary widely as well. A dysphoria can simply be a normal emotional response to stressful environmental factors, and be fairly short-lived. It can be the result of a physical issue in the body; for example hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, can induce a dysphoric emotional state. Somtimes it is the side effect of a drug.
Numerous psychiatric conditions list a dysphoria as a symptom. Some main ones are clinical depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and personality disorders. A major concern when dealing with many of these conditions in conjunction with a dysphoria is the possibility of suicide. In disorders such as depression or bipolar disorder, where the sufferers have intense feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and despair, they may have suicidal thoughts.
Another factor in psychiatric conditions are psychotic episodes, which is when sufferers lose touch with reality. These may include hallucinations, delusions, and an overall skewed view of reality. Mood can greatly impact how people experience psychotic episodes; therefore, someone with a dysphoric mood might tend to have delusions that reflect ideas of persecution, paranoia, or self-loathing.
Hormones can also play a factor in inducing a dysphoria. Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) are both often characterized by negative feelings that occur around the onset of menstruation. It is theorized that sufferers have excessive reactions to the normal hormonal changes that occur in the body during the mentstual cycle.
Dysphoria may also be experienced in response to ordinary life events, such as great illness or grief. Dysphoria can also be chemically induced by some commonly used psychoactive drugs, such as typical and atypical antipsychotics.
Symptoms may include:
Pressured speech against a background of retardation.
Histrionic appearance with expressions of depressive suffering.
There are many different questionnaires used to measure dysphoria. However, two classifications of mental illness are most widely used:
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: This is a classification system based on all the known recorded symptoms associated with a particular mental condition. Your GP will ask you if you have certain symptoms, and depending on your answers, will be able to use the system to identify what the condition it is.
Laboratory tests may help illuminate the physical processes underlying the patient's symptoms. These tests are a relatively new, and none provides definitive proof for any particular diagnosis. Tests currently in use include a variety of techniques for brain imaging, the use of blood and urine measures of neuroendocrine and neurotransmitter function, and the use of the electroencephalogram to evaluate the electrical activities of the brain.
"Static" Brain Imaging: "Static" Imaging techniques can be used to look for abnormalities only in brain structure. The most widely used technique is computerized tomographic (CT) scanning. The brain is X-rayed, and computerized techniques are used to reconstruct relatively precise pictures of brain structures. CT does not provide a true diagnostic laboratory test but it does provide a large amount of significant information about pathological processes occurring in the brain. For example, ventricular enlargement is relatively common in schizophrenia, and this finding may confirm the diagnosis of schizophrenia.
Another imaging technique nuclear magnetic response (NMR) scan done by nuclear magnetic resonance. Like CT it is painless. As in the case of CT scanning, computerized methods are used to reconstruct the pictures obtained. It has two main advantages over CT scanning. First of all, it produces images of extremely high resolution. Structures in the brain can be seen in incredibly fine detail, with very clear differentiation between small gray and white-matter structures. The second advantage is that NMR achieves these pictures of living tissue at essentially no risk, unlike CT scanning, which uses a small amount of radiation, NMR uses none.
"Dynamic" Brain Imaging: "Dynamic" brain imaging techniques permit to actually observe how the brain works when it performs certain tasks. In other words, it provides a way of measuring function rather than structure. The two commonest techniques for dynamic brain imaging are studies of regional cerebral blood flow (RCBF) and positron-emission tomographic (PET) scanning.
The technique of RCBF involves the use of radioactive tracers, xenon-133, which are taken in brain tissue and can be used to visualize which parts of the brain are most active. The labeled xenon emits photons, which can be measured either by mapping flow on the surface of the brain or with a computer-assisted tomography much like that used in CT scanning.
Patients suffering from particular kinds of mental illness have greater or lesser blood flow in particular areas of the brain than do normal people. For example, patients suffering from depression may have a decreased metabolic rate in their brains, which may be either a cause or a symptom of the disease. When the depression goes away with treatment, the metabolic rate (as reflected by cerebral blood flow) goes up. Thus, one application in this technique may be to monitor response to treatment.
PET scanning is a technique that combines the best of both worlds. It gives good resolution, much likes CT scanning, permitting the clinician to see brain structures in relatively fine detail. Further, like RCBF, it is a dynamic technique that permits the neuroscientist to watch the brain at work and to observe which parts of it become more active in response to various kinds of stimuli.
A brain imaging procedure involves the use of positron-emitting substances that are injected into the body and taken up by the brain. The radiation that they emit is measured and used to construct a picture of the brain.
Pet scanning has a number of drawbacks. It is a very expensive (positron-emitting isotopes are produced in a cyclotron), and it does carry some risk (the injection of radioisotopes into a blood vessel). In the future almost certainly positron-emitters will be attached to psychoactive drugs or known neurotransmitters substances and their activities traced in the brains of patients with mental illness, thereby helping us map areas of drug action and of abnormalities in neurochemical transmission.
Many individuals seek treatment or are recommended for treatment after showing signs of dysphoria, to avoid the risk of suicide or self-harm. Symptoms such as crying, irritability, rapid thoughts, and hallucinations may all be indicators of a dysphoric mood. This type of mood can be a natural response to a painful event such as the death of a loved one, or it may exist as a component of another mental disorder. Therapies that focus on avoiding negative, self-defeating thoughts and learning coping strategies may be sufficient to treat more mild episodes; more severe cases may require intensive therapy or the use of medication, however.
The medication ziprasidone may be used to treat some individuals with dysphoria when they also have bipolar disorder. Ziprasidone is an anticonvulsant and mood stabilizing medication; other drugs in this class may also successfully treat a dysphoric mood in some cases. An antidepressant, duloxetine, has been used in some Texas studies as a potential treatment, but among some people, this therapy could be risky as it could lead to a mixed state of combined dysphoria and agitation.
One specific form of this mood is known as gender dysphoria, which can occur as a component of the mental condition known as gender identity disorder. Usually, this type of dysphoric mood is characterized by unhappiness at one's own gender, and a desire to belong to the opposite gender. Treating dysphoria of this nature can often be a much more involved process, involving hormone therapy and talk therapies. Some patients may be trained to look and behave as a member of the preferred gender to avoid the conditions that may lead to the dysphoria. Often, group therapies involving other people with gender identity disorder, as well as counseling for relatives, may be elements of more substantial treatments.
NOTE: The above information is for processing purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.
DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.
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