Dysthymia is a mild-to-moderate, but chronic depression that lasts for 2 years or longer.
The cause of dysthymia is not known. A chemical in the brain called serotonin may play a role.
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Dysthymia is more common in women than in men. Other factors that may increase your chance of dysthymia include:
- Family history of major depression or dysthymia
- Chronic mental or physical illness
- Chronic stress
- Environmental factors
People who have dysthymia may also experience episodes of major depression.
Dysthymia may be difficult to differentiate from depression because symptoms overlap. These may include:
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical and psychological exam will be given.
Your doctor may refer you to a specialist for further evaluation. Tests may be done to look for medical causes like thyroid problems or anemia.
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment may include 1 or more of the following:
Antidepressant medicines may help to manage symptoms. Antidepressants take a few weeks to begin working. Take them as directed by your doctor.
Therapy can help change unhealthy thought patterns. Psychotherapy may include:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Family therapy
- Interpersonal therapy
In addition to medicines and therapy, the following lifestyle modifications may help you feel better:
There are no current guidelines to prevent dysthymia.
National Institute of Mental Health
National Mental Health Association
Canadian Mental Health Association
Canadian Psychiatric Association
Major depressive disorder (MDD). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/condition/major-depressive-disorder-mdd. Updated July 19, 2017. Accessed October 4, 2017.
Depression. Mental Health America website. Available at: http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/depression. Accessed October 4, 2017.
Depressive disorders. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/psychiatric-disorders/mood-disorders/depressive-disorders. Updated August 2016. Accessed October 4, 2017.
Dysthymic disorder. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: https://familydoctor.org/condition/dysthymic-disorder. Updated August 2017. Accessed October 4, 2017.
Last reviewed September 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrian Preda, MD Last Updated: 8/19/2020