Dysthymic Disorder

Dysthymic Disorder

Dysthymic Disorder, also known as Persistent Depressive Disorder, is a type of chronic depression that lasts for two years or more. Individuals with this disorder often experience a low mood, lack of interest in activities, fatigue, and feelings of hopelessness.

grunge border
Home Chronic Relapse Dual Diagnosis Mental Health Dysthymic Disorder vs Major Depression

Both of these mental health disorders, dysthymia, and major depression, have a significant impact on a person’s mood, behavior, and overall quality of life. They do, however, have distinguishing characteristics that set them apart. If you’ve felt that way for years and it’s becoming your new normal, it’s time to learn what these two disorders are, what causes them, and how to get the right treatment so you can start to feel better. Jaywalker is dedicated to providing support for your depression!

What Is Dysthymia?

Dysthymia referred to as dysthymic disorder or persistent depressive disorder (PDD), presents as a chronic mood disorder with a consistently low or depressed mood lasting for most of the day, on more days than not, for a minimum of two years in adults and one year in children and adolescents. Women are twice as likely as men to suffer from dysthymia.

Individuals with dysthymia often experience sadness, hopelessness, low self-esteem, and a general sense of unhappiness. These feelings may fluctuate in intensity but generally persist over an extended period. In some cases, individuals may have brief periods of normal mood, but these are rare.

One key feature of dysthymic disorder is that the symptoms are less severe compared to those of major depression. While individuals with major depression may experience intense and debilitating symptoms, those with dysthymia experience milder but persistent symptoms. Keep reading to discover further information about the warning signs associated with this mood disorder!

The Symptoms and Diagnosis of Dysthymia

Dysthymia symptoms encompass a range of conditions that affect an individual’s overall well-being, causing significant disruptions in their daily life. The following are the main warning signs to look out for:

  • Persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or pessimism. You just feel down or blue most of the time.
  • Low energy or fatigue. You struggle to motivate yourself and feel constantly tired and drained.
  • Sleep problems. You have trouble falling asleep, wake up frequently during the night, or oversleep.
  • Increased irritability or a short temper.
  • Appetite changes. You experience either a loss of appetite and weight loss or increased appetite and weight gain.
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions. Your mind feels foggy, and tasks seem more difficult to do.
  • Low self-esteem. You view yourself in a negative, critical way and lack confidence in yourself and your abilities.
  • Social Withdrawal. Avoiding social interactions and preferring isolation.
    To diagnose dysthymic disorder, a doctor or mental health professional will evaluate the severity and duration of your symptoms. They will ask you questions about your medical and family history and rule out any underlying conditions. Dysthymia can often co-occur with major depression or other disorders, so a proper diagnosis is important to determine the most effective treatment.

What Causes Dysthymia?

While there is no known cause, several factors are thought to contribute to the development of this chronic form of depression.

Dysthymia seems to run in families, so genetics likely plays a role. Having a close family member with depression increases your risk. Researchers believe certain genes can make people more vulnerable to developing dysthymic disorder.

Imbalances in certain neurotransmitters, like serotonin and norepinephrine, may be involved. These chemical messengers in the brain help regulate mood and emotions. Low levels of serotonin, in particular, are linked to depression and dysthymia.

Chronic stress, trauma, neglect, or abuse during childhood or adulthood can also trigger the onset of dysthymic disorder or make symptoms worse. Persistent stress causes changes in the brain and body that perpetuate feelings of hopelessness and sadness.

Some people may develop a tendency to focus on negative thoughts and emotions from observing others or through life experiences. This pessimistic thinking style contributes to the development of dysthymia. Challenging and retraining these negative thought patterns with therapy can help alleviate symptoms.

Certain chronic medical problems like hypothyroidism or chronic fatigue syndrome share some of the same symptoms as dysthymia and may put you at higher risk or worsen depression. In some cases, treating the underlying medical issue may help improve mood and outlook.

In summary, dysthymic disorder arises from a combination of biological, psychological, and environmental influences that differ for each person. The complex interplay between genetics, brain chemistry, thoughts, experiences, health issues, and life events shapes a person’s risk and resilience. Understanding the causes can help guide effective treatment and prevention of this long-term yet treatable form of depression.

Dysthymic Disorder vs Major Depression

Dysthymic disorder and major depression are two mood disorders that share some similarities but also have key differences. The symptoms of dysthymia tend to be less severe but more long-lasting, allowing for some ability to function from day to day. Major depression causes more significant problems in functioning and daily activities, with symptoms that can become severe if left untreated.

The primary difference between the two disorders is the duration and severity of symptoms. Dysthymia represents a persistent, yet less intense, chronic form of depression. Symptoms tend to be mild to moderate but last for two years or more. Major depression typically has more severe symptoms that last for at least two weeks. The symptoms of major depression also tend to interfere more with your ability to work, sleep, study, eat, and enjoy life.

While both conditions share similar symptoms like feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and changes in appetite or sleep, people with dysthymia tend to be able to continue functioning, though not at full capacity. Those with major depression typically struggle significantly in their day-to-day lives. Feelings of worthlessness and excessive guilt are more common in major depression. Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide are also particular to major depression.

The good news is that both dysthymia and major depression can be treated. For dysthymia, treatment often involves psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of the two. Antidepressant medications and counseling or talk therapy are frequently used. Major depression also utilizes medication and talk therapy, but treatment may require more aggressive management, higher medication doses, or hospitalization in some cases.

How Does Dysthymia Get Treated?

When it comes to treating dysthymia or dysthymic disorder, you have several options to help manage your symptoms. These include the following approaches:

Talk therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or interpersonal therapy (IPT), can be very helpful for dysthymia. CBT focuses on changing negative thought and behavior patterns. IPT aims to improve communication and relationships. Both therapies teach coping strategies to help you better manage your moods and stress. Seeing a therapist regularly, even when you’re feeling good, can help prevent relapse.

Antidepressant medications are commonly prescribed for dysthymia. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), like escitalopram (Lexapro) and sertraline (Zoloft), and serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), such as duloxetine (Cymbalta), are popular options. These medications may take several weeks of use before you notice their effects. You may need to try different drugs or doses to find what works best for you based on your symptoms and side effects.

Mindfulness practices and meditation techniques have shown promise in reducing depressive symptoms and promoting emotional well-being. These practices can help individuals develop awareness of their thoughts and emotions, leading to better emotional regulation.

Establishing a network of family, friends, or support groups can offer emotional support and understanding. Talking to others who may be experiencing similar challenges or participating in expeditions and services can help reduce feelings of isolation.

There are also steps you can take to help yourself feel better. Exercise regularly, do outdoor activities, eat a healthy diet, limit alcohol, and avoid recreational drugs. Practice relaxation techniques. Spend time with others who support you. Challenge negative thoughts and focus on positive interactions and experiences. While self-help strategies alone may not eliminate your dysthymia, they can complement medical treatment.

The combination of medication, therapy, mediation, support groups, and self-help offers the best chance of managing dysthymic disorder. Ongoing treatment and monitoring with the support of your doctor or mental health professional can help prevent symptoms from returning or worsening. With time and proper treatment, you can overcome your chronic low mood and live a happy, fulfilling life.

Received Treatment for Depression and Addiction at Jaywalker

Jaywalker offers a chance for transformative healing amid a caring and understanding atmosphere. By recognizing the need for assistance, conducting thorough research, and embracing our holistic treatment approach, individuals can begin a journey of self-discovery and recovery. Our experienced professionals provide guidance, offering the promise of newfound hope and a life of wellness to those taking this courageous step. Remember, you don’t have to face this journey alone – we are here to help and support you every step of the way! Contact us now!


Experience the world-class men's treatment center in Carbondale, CO

"*" indicates required fields

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.