Alternative names Neurotic depression; Chronic depression.
Definition Dysthymia is chronic form of depression, characterized by moods that are consistently low, but not as extreme as other types of depression.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors The exact cause of dysthymia is unknown. Although the symptoms are not as severe as those of other forms of depression, affected people struggle nearly every day with low self-esteem, despair, and hopelessness. Dysthymia can occur alone or in conjunction with more severe depression or other mood or psychiatric disorders.
Symptoms The main symptom of dysthymia is low, dark, or sad mood nearly every day for at least 2 years. -Poor appetite or overeating -Insomnia or hypersomnia -Low energy or fatigue -Low self-esteem -Poor concentration -Feelings of hopelessness
Signs and tests Dysthymia is evaluated by taking a careful history of mood and other mental health symptoms over the past several months.
Treatment As with other forms of depression, there are a number of treatment options for people with dysthymia. There is some evidence to suggest that the combination of both medication and psychotherapy treatments may yield the most improvement.
Expectations (prognosis) By definition, dysthymia is a chronic condition lasting many years. Though some people completely recover, others continue to have some symptoms despite treatment. Maintenance medication and therapy may be required.