What is Low-Grade Depression and How Do You Cope?


What is Low-Grade Depression and How Do You Cope?

Mental Health
Bre D’Alessio South
By Bre D’Alessio South
Aug 10, 2020
Dr. Amy Kearney
Medically Reviewed ByDr. Amy Kearney
What is Low-Grade Depression and How Do You Cope?

Michelle Obama recently opened up about her struggle with managing low-grade depression during quarantine, social unrest, overall uncertainty of our future, and the steamroller of issues that 2020 keeps pushing our way each month.

What Michelle brought to light is the reality that most of us are feeling really down right now. We might not be able to put a clinical label on it but we know something is off. In an RxSaver survey conducted by Kelton Research in April, more than 54% of Americans reported that COVID-19 had negatively impacted their mental health.

What is the difference between low-grade and mild depression?

Mild and low-grade depression are both labels used to describe a form of depression that many individuals often don’t realize they are experiencing until they are diagnosed. These symptoms include chronic feelings of sadness, low energy, and an off mood. An individual experiencing low-grade depression can typically still carry out day to day responsibilities but without the typical energy or excitement of life.

Low-grade depression is linked to feelings of helplessness, irritability, and overall sadness that an individual is unlikely to pinpoint exactly where the feeling might be stemming from as a result. Low-grade depression is often left untreated since most people don’t automatically connect their low mood or irritability to a bigger issue.

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How long does low-grade depression last?

According to Harvard Health, low-grade depression or dysthymia can either be categorized into short episodes that aren’t concurrent or can last for more than two years without interruption.

Symptoms typically associated with low-grade depression include:

Loss of appetite or overeating Insomnia or oversleeping Loss of energy Increase in tiredness Increase in irritability Difficulty concentrating Lack of interest in activities that used to be exciting

Is low-grade depression a chemical imbalance?

Low-grade depression is sometimes linked to persistent depressive disorder which is a long term, low-grade feeling of depression that can last for at least two years. This is a milder form of major depressive disorder since you may feel the symptoms for most of the day. The chronic low mood you experience may interfere with work, family and social life.

Persistent depressive disorder has been linked to a chemical imbalance, an imbalance that can be caused by genetic factors, environmental factors, or a combination of both.

A more situational form of anxiety, adjustment disorder, occurs when we are having difficulty coping with a situation or a series of major life stressors. These stressors can lead to situational depression.

Are there medications for low-grade depression? If you feel like you’re symptoms are getting worse and symptoms are interfering with your daily life, reach out to your health care provider to determine if medication would be helpful for your situation.

Commonly prescribed medications for low-grade depression include antidepressants such as SSRIs. Common SSRIs include citalopram (Celexa), escitalopram (Lexapro) and Fluoxetine (Prozac).

When should I reach out for help for my low-grade depression?

Mental health is just as important as your physical health. Americans have routine appointments for our general health and annual dentist appointments but often miss checking in on our mental health even if things are going well. Psychology Today offers a great resource of psychologists, therapists, and psychiatrists located in your area. You can easily filter your search based on insurance, issues, and other preferences.

Your general physician is also a great resource to talk to as a first step if you aren’t certain where you should look to first. They can also refer you to a specialist or therapist in your network.

Search RxSaver to determine if your medication is available for home delivery.

It’s Okay to Feel Unsettled Right Now

There are many forms of talk therapy options and other therapeutic solutions you can practice each day like mediation, journaling, or even going for a walk to get outside. Pay attention to what your mind and body are telling you and recognize when you feel overwhelmed and off on a consistent basis. This is typically your body telling you something isn’t right and in need of extra support.

While some forms of depression can come and go other forms such as chronic depression can linger for weeks or months. During a time where there is so much global uncertainty, it isn’t uncommon in feeling off or overall having more bad days than good ones. There are plenty of options for additional support and affordable therapy options available should you need to talk to someone.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1–800–273–8255 or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741. You may also reach out to the Samaritans: Call or text (877) 870-HOPE (4673)

Bre D’Alessio South

Bre D’Alessio South

Bre D’Alessio South is the content marketing manager and managing editor of RxSaver. Her writing focuses on health care, mental health, and gender rights. At RxSaver, she also serves as co-lead for the employee resource group caRe, which focuses on mental health and chronic health support in the workplace.

Dr. Amy Kearney

Dr. Amy Kearney

Amy Kearney earned her Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts, and Doctoral degrees in Psychology from Azusa Pacific University in the Los Angeles area. She is a licensed clinical psychologist and has worked for one of the nation’s largest HMOs since 2002. She currently specializes in pain management and gets great joy from helping individuals maximize their quality of life and functioning while living with chronic conditions.

The information on this site is generalized and is not medical advice. It is intended to supplement, not substitute for, the expertise and judgment of your healthcare professional. Always seek the advice of your healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard seeking advice or delay in seeking treatment because of something you have read on our site. RxSaver makes no warranty as to the accuracy, reliability or completeness of this information.

If you are in crisis or you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.