Self-Improvement

What Is Dysphoria?

What Is Dysphoria?

Have you ever felt anxious? Perhaps you’re feeling a little blue, down in the dumps, or dissatisfied with your life. This is an unpleasant but typical human experience from time to time. However, if the feelings persist and are causing you distress, this may be more serious, and you may already know what it feels like to have dysphoria.

It’s the feeling opposite of euphoria, feelings of sadness that are entirely debilitating and hinder a person’s ability to function correctly in their life. The good news is that there are ways to help get you out of this debilitating state. This article will discuss types of dysphoria and some ways to cope with it.

What Is Dysphoria?

Pronunciation of dysphoria

The word ‘Dysphoria’ comes from the Greek “dys,” meaning abnormal or complicated, and “phoria,” meaning “a state of mind or body.” It is a state of emotional unhappiness that involves a feeling of general malaise and dissatisfaction with life in its entirety.

People in a state of dysphoria may experience intense feelings of irritability, sadness, isolation, loneliness, boredom, or frustration. This state of mind can occur at any age and for several reasons.

For example, some people may experience dysphoria because they may be dissatisfied with their present situation in life, feeling as if they would be better suited for something else altogether. This feeling of displacement is generally coupled with a sense of unease or anxiety that can be debilitating.

At the same time, dysphoria can also be caused by negative feelings regarding one’s physical appearance or body; in this case, the negative emotions experienced are likely to manifest as feelings of shame (also known as self-loathing).

What Are the Signs of Dysphoria?

Being in a state of dysphoria negatively affects your quality of life. It can impair your ability to concentrate, make social connections, and challenge you to think through problems analytically. While dysphoria may be a symptom of depression, it is also defined as the emotional and physical discomfort that some individuals who do not identify with their biological sex experience.

Despite some differences in the intensity of these symptoms, this feeling is characterized by uneasiness or dissatisfaction that starts from within. Said that a person experiencing dysphoria may exhibit one or more of the following behaviors:

  1. Lack of interest and enthusiasm
  2. Extreme tiredness and irritability
  3. Anxiety and anger
  4. Unhappiness and loneliness
  5. Lack of satisfaction with one’s life

What Is the Difference Between Dysphoria and Dysmorphia?

Dysphoria describes the psychological state of discontent, anxiety, or restlessness caused by an emotional, physical, or mental change. Dysmorphia, on the other hand, is used to describe impairment in body image. A person with a dysphoric mood does not necessarily want to change his physical appearance; he may feel that certain parts of his body are unattractive or “wrong” in some way.

What Are the Types of Dysphoria?

Gender dysphoria

Gender dysphoria is a condition where a person experiences discomfort or distress because of a mismatch between their biological sex and gender identity. Gender identity can be defined as a personal conception of oneself as male or female (or neither male nor female), which may or may not correspond with the sex assigned at birth.

Premenstrual dysphoria

You may be familiar with PMS (premenstrual syndrome), a set of symptoms that can appear in the days or weeks before menstruation. However, some women also suffer from a much more severe premenstrual syndrome known as PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder). In addition to physical symptoms that include bloating, breast tenderness, and weight gain, women with PMDD experience severe emotional symptoms that may take over their lives.

Post-coital dysphoria

Post-coital dysphoria is a term that describes the feelings of gloom and/or anxiety that may follow the end of a romantic relationship. Although it is more commonly referred to as “post-breakup blues,” it also may refer to a range of emotions. The individual feels depressed, disappointed, betrayed, or unhappy after sex.

Tardive dysphoria

A tardive dysphoria is a chronic form of euphoria brought on by antipsychotic medication. It is often mistaken for mania, but unlike most cases of mania, tardive dysphoria is more likely to induce feelings of sadness or even suicidal thoughts. Tardive dysphoria can also be caused by overdosage of antidepressants for several years.

Types of Dysphoria

How to Treat Dysphoria?

Dysphoria, often caused by low self-confidence and a lack of tangible goals, is a state of mind that can be troublesome for many people suffering from anxiety, depression, or other mental health disorders. When the level of discomfort reaches its peak and begins to impact an individual’s ability to function normally in daily life, dysphoria should be treated by an experienced therapist or licensed mental health professional.

To make sure you’re not trying to treat dysphoria when something else is the root cause, it’s essential that a doctor or licensed mental health professional can help you differentiate. A therapist or qualified doctor can administer a standardized test to determine the difference between dysphoria and other issues that may be impacting your life.

Medication may be used in conjunction with psychotherapy depending on the severity of dysphoria and the conditions causing it. Some dysphoria types can be resolved through psychotherapy alone, but for persistent cases, medication is recommended. There are various psychotherapeutic options available to help those who suffer from dysphoria. Counseling is used both before and after or during therapy.

The main psychotherapeutic approaches used are cognitive-behavioral therapy, the technique called cognitive restructuring, which helps someone learn how to react differently to dysphoria; psychoeducation, which involves helping a person cope with the practical aspects of their dysphoria and its implications; and social skills training.

How to Cope With Dysphoria?

The good news is that dysphoria can be managed in most cases using simple steps to help alleviate the symptoms felt. Here are a few of them:

1) Change your day-to-day routine:

It can be challenging to recognize and address feelings of dysphoria when perceived as a natural part of life. For example, it might be easy to notice when others around you are in better moods or having more fun. But it may be harder to acknowledge that your mood doesn’t quite match where you want it to be.

Or, if you’ve been feeling pretty down lately when someone asks how you feel, and you answer “OK,” this might mean that you feel like garbage. Sometimes we get so involved with our daily routines that it becomes difficult to break out of them.

Whether it’s a bad mood, some bad habits, or the routine of life itself, sometimes you need to find new ways to get unstuck.

2) Spend some time exercising:

There is more evidence than ever before that getting some exercise can improve your mood and help manage the symptoms of depression. It’s important to remember that different activities count as exercise, so you don’t have to be a gym bunny!

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that adults should perform at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week. A moderate-intensity exercise includes playing basketball, bicycling on level ground, doubles tennis, dancing, etc.

Moderate Intensity Exercises

3) Eat healthy food:

There are no “quick fixes” to dysphoria, so you should allow yourself time to adjust to any new healthy habits. Eating well is essential to staying mentally healthy, just like exercising and getting enough sleep are.

It is a small act with massive repercussions. Feeding our bodies well can positively impact our moods and this sense of dysphoria. Learning how to recognize your body’s needs concerning food can help you feel more balanced and at ease. Because studies have shown that mood disorders are linked to one’s physical health and nutrition, it is crucial to be mindful about changing your diet.

10 Healthy Foods To Reduce Anxiety

4) Spend time with family:

One of the most common signs of Dysphoria is social isolation, and stigma is a significant barrier to seeking help for dysphoria. It prevents many from accessing the resources they need for a healthy and fulfilling life. Focus on finding ways to make more time for friends and family, talk to them about your thoughts, and try new activities that you can enjoy with them.

Final Thoughts

Dysphoria is a complex condition that can affect people in many ways. It is important to remember that it does not interfere with your relationships, work, or social life. Social support and mental health professionals are eager to help you manage dysphoria and lead the life you want. Don’t be afraid to reach out; they are there for you.

References:

  • D.J., H. (2019). The phenomenological characteristics of autobiographical future thinking in dysphoric and non-dysphoric individuals. Psychiatry Research, 273, 481–486. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychres.2018.12.100
  • Dhejne, C., Van Vlerken, R., Heylens, G., & Arcelus, J. (2016). Mental health and gender dysphoria: A review of the literature. International Review of Psychiatry, 28(1), 44–57. https://doi.org/10.3109/09540261.2015.1115753
  • Kaiser, G., Janda, C., Kleinstäuber, M., & Weise, C. (2018). Clusters of premenstrual symptoms in women with PMDD: Appearance, stability, and association with impairment. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 115, 38–43. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpsychores.2018.10.004
  • Belvederi Murri, M., Ekkekakis, P., Magagnoli, M., Zampogna, D., Cattedra, S., Capobianco, L., Serafini, G., Calcagno, P., Zanetidou, S., & Amore, M. (2019). Physical exercise in major depression: Reducing the mortality gap while improving clinical outcomes. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 9. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2018.00762
  • Smit, T., Peraza, N., Garey, L., Langdon, K. J., Ditre, J. W., Rogers, A. H., Manning, K., & Zvolensky, M. J. (2019). Pain-related anxiety and smoking processes: The explanatory role of dysphoria. Addictive Behaviors, 88, 15–22. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2018.08.008

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Hi, I am Happy. I'm a professional writer and psychology enthusiast. I love to read and write about human behaviors, the mind, mental health-related topics, and more.

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