Dysthymia

Alternative Names

Neurotic depression (dysthymia); Dysthymic disorder; Chronic depression; Depression – chronic

Definition of Dysthymia

Dysthymia is a chronic type of depression in which a person’s moods are regularly low. However, symptoms are not as severe as with major depression.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

The exact cause of dysthymia is unknown. It tends to run in families. Dysthymia occurs more often in women than in men and affects up to 5% of the general population.

Symptoms

The main symptom of dysthymia is a low, dark, or sad mood on most days for at least 2 years. In children and adolescents, the mood can be irritable instead of depressed and may last for at least 1 year.

Signs and tests

Your health care provider will take a history of your mood and other mental health symptoms. The health care provider may also check your blood and urine to rule out medical causes of depression.

Treatment

Treatment for dysthymia includes antidepressant drug therapy, along with some type of talk therapy.

Expectations (prognosis)

Dysthymia is a chronic condition that lasts many years. Though some people completely recover, others continue to have some symptoms, even with treatment.

Review

David B. Merrill, MD, Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 8/13/2010

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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