Dysthymic Disorder

Dysthymic Disorder is a type of chronic depression similar to Major Depressive Disorder although much less severe. Like Major depressive disorder, Dysthymic Disorder is characterized by emotional and behavioral symptoms such as feelings of hopelessness, insomnia, inability to concentrate, low energy and irritability. However, those with Dysthymic Disorder often exhibit fewer and less extreme symptoms than those with Major Depressive Disorder for longer periods of time. To be diagnosed with Dysthymic disorder, one must exhibit two or more symptoms of the illness for two years or more in order to be considered for treatment. If left unaddressed, Dysthymic Disorder can disrupt normal functioning in the lives of those suffering from it. Talk to a doctor or mental health practitioner if you believe you or a loved one may have this condition.

Common Symptoms of Dysthymic Disorder

  • For the majority of days within a two-year period, the patient reports being depressed or appears depressed to others.
  • Typical symptoms of Dysthymic Disorder do not relent for longer than two months in a row.
  • Within the first two years of the illness the patient has not suffered a major depressive episode.
  • The patient has not had a manic episode or been or been diagnosed with Cyclothymic Disorder.
  • Another medical condition or medications or other substances do not cause the illness.

Treatment of Dysthymic Disorder

It should be noted that 75% of people with Dysthymic Disorder have had a chronic physical illness, anxiety disorders or substance abuse problems. Also, people with Dysthymic Disorder often come from families who have exhibited the depressive symptoms of Dysthymic Disorder. Treatment options for this condition include medications, psychotherapy and support groups among others. These treatments are very similar to those used for people with Major Depressive Disorder. Medications include anti-depressants like Zoloft, Prozac and Paxil. These medications, however, can sometimes come with very negative side effects. Suicidal thoughts and aggression have been reported as negative side effects, along with physical side effects such as low blood pressure, nausea, diarrhea, insomnia and short-term memory loss. Psychotherapy includes cognitive behavioral therapy and interpersonal psychotherapy. A doctor or mental health professional may help you or your loved one cope with the symptoms of Dysthymic Disorder. The long-term effects can disrupt the normal everyday functioning of a person with the condition, especially because of the illness’ persistence. Approximately 10% of people who suffer from Dysthymic Disorder later develop Major Depressive Disorder. Do not let your illness get to this point. There are plenty of experts willing to help and people who can relate.

Review Sources

  • University of Michigan Depression Center – This page provides information on dysthymic disorder, facts and figures, existing treatment options and possible long-term effects.
  • Wikipedia – This page contains information on dysthymic disorder, characteristics of someone suffering from the condition, causes and treatment.

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