Dysthymic Disorder

What is Dysthymic Disorder

Dysthymic disorder (also known as Persistent Depressive Disorder) is a type of chronic depression that lasts for at least two years. It is characterized by long-term depressive symptoms that interfere with one's life and can cause significant distress and issues with functioning. It is generally milder than major depression, but it can still have a significant impact on a person's life.

Signs and Symptoms of Dysthymic Disorder

The major symptoms associated with dysthymic disorder include:

  • Persistent sad, empty, or irritable mood
  • Decreased appetite or overeating
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Low energy or fatigue
  • Low self-esteem
  • Trouble concentrating or making decisions
  • Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness

Risk Factors for Dysthymic Disorder

There is no single known cause of dysthymic disorder. It is believed to be caused by multiple factors, including:

  • Genetics – A family history of depression can put a person at greater risk.
  • Brain chemistry – An imbalance of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine can play a role in the disorder.
  • Stressful life events – Loss, financial difficulty, and other stressful life events can put a person at risk.
  • Other mental health disorders – Dysthymic disorder can occur with other mental health disorders such as anxiety and substance abuse.

Treatment for Dysthymic Disorder

Treatment for dysthymic disorder is usually a combination of psychotherapy (such as cognitive-behavioral therapy or interpersonal therapy) and medication. The type of treatment that is most effective varies from person to person. Some people have had success with lifestyle changes such as physical activity, journaling, and medication.