What is (Dysthymia): Definition, Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Test

Dysthymia or so-called persistent depressive disorder is a long-term form of chronic depression. The criteria for diagnosis of Dysthymia according to DSM-IV have Decreased appetite or excessive eating. Insomnia or hypersomnia. Lack of energy or fatigue. Low self-image. Learn more about What is (Dysthymia): Definition, Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Test.


What is Dysthymia?

Dysthymia is a long-term form of chronic depression. Like other types of depression, Dysthymia is a condition that can also cause persistent feelings of sadness and despair.

Dysthymia is a psychiatric disorder that can affect mood, behavior, and physical functions, including appetite and sleep quality. Consequently, people with dysthymia symptoms frequently get rid of interest in performing tasks they’ve loved and have trouble completing daily activities.

Although these symptoms can be seen in all forms of depression, in Dysthymia, the symptoms are not too severe but more lasting. Dysthymia is a serious psychiatric disorder and does not include “minor” depression.

In addition, Dysthymia is also not an intermediate condition between severe depression and depression in the general sense.

In some cases, Dysthymia is more crippling than severe depression. However, Dysthymia is very similar to severe depression so further investigation needs to be done to distinguish Dysthymia from severe depression.

More than half of Dysthymia sufferers end up experiencing episodes of severe depression, and about half of patients treated for severe depression suffer from double depression.

Many patients who recover partly from severe depression also have milder symptoms that persist for years. This sort of chronic depression isn’t easy to differentiate from Dysthymia.


Causes of Dysthymia

Until now the cause of Dysthymia is not known with certainty. Much like Acute depression, the condition Might involve more than 1 cause, for Example:

Biological Differences

People with Dysthymia may experience physical changes to their brain. The significance of this change is still uncertain, but this condition can help to determine the cause of this mental health problem.


Brain Chemicals

Neurotransmitters are chemicals in the brain that appear naturally and likely play a role in depression. A study shows that changes in the function and effects of neurotransmitters as well as how they interact with neurocircuits–are involved in maintaining mood stability. This condition can play an important role in the treatment of depression.



This mental illness appears to be common in somebody that has a brother with a prior history of psychological issues. The researchers discovered that genes might be involved in causing this illness.



Just like intense melancholy, traumatic events such as the lack of a family, financial troubles, or elevated amounts of stress can lead to a person to experience this.

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Personality Conditions

This condition can also be caused by a person having a pessimistic personality, always depending on others, or considering low self-esteem.


In addition to Dysthymia, you should also know the Signs of Permanent Nerve Damage: and How to Cure Nerve Damage.


Symptoms of Dysthymia

Symptoms of Dysthymia usually come and go for years, and their intensity can change over time. However, symptoms usually do not go away for more than two months. In addition, major depressive episodes can occur before or during these whacking health problems.

The following are some of the symptoms of Dysthymia, among others:

  • Loss of interest in doing daily activities.
  • Sadness, emptiness, or feeling sad.
  • Hopelessness.
  • Fatigue and lack of energy.
  • Low self-esteem or feeling unable to solve problems.
  • Difficulty concentrating and difficulty making decisions.
  • Quickly get angry or angry excessively.
  • Productivity is declining.
  • Avoid social activities.
  • Feelings of guilt and worry about the past.
  • Poor appetite or overeating.
  • Having trouble sleeping.


Dysthymia symptoms in children

Signs and symptoms of persistent depressive disorder can occur in children or adolescents. In these circles, symptoms of Dysthymia include irritability, moodiness, and pessimism for a long period.

They can also exhibit certain behaviors, such as learning difficulties at school and interacting with other peers. These signs and symptoms may be coming and going for several years. Meanwhile, the severity can vary over time.

What is (Dysthymia): Definition, Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Test

Diagnosis and Test of dysthymia

The first diagnosis that the doctor can do is to perform a physical examination. After that, the doctor may suggest conducting a blood test or laboratory test to rule out possible medical conditions that cause symptoms of Dysthymia.

However, no blood tests, X-rays, or laboratory tests are used to diagnose this mental disorder. If there is no physical explanation for the symptoms, your doctor may begin to suspect that you have a mental disorder.

The doctor will ask you a few questions to assess your mental and emotional state. It is important, to be honest with the doctor about the symptoms experienced. Your response will help your doctor determine if you have Dysthymia or any other type of mental illness.

Many doctors use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) to assess whether someone has symptoms of the disease. The symptoms listed in DSM-5 include:

  • The atmosphere is depressed almost every day.
  • Have a poor appetite or overeat.
  • It’s hard to fall asleep.
  • Fatigue.
  • Low confidence level.
  • It’s hard to make a decision.

In addition, a person must experience a depressed mood almost every day for two years or more to be diagnosed with this psychological disorder. As for children and adolescents, they should experience feelings of distress or irritability almost every day for at least a year.

If your doctor’s diagnosis says you have Dysthymia, you will likely be referred to a mental health professional for evaluation and get follow-up treatment.

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Dysthymia Treatment

Treatment for Dysthymia is composed of medical treatment and psychotherapy. Treatment is believed to be a more effective step than psychotherapy. However, the combination of treatment and psychotherapy is often the best treatment that can be done.


The disease can be treated with various types of antidepressants, including:

  • Tricyclic antidepressants (TCA), such as amitriptyline (Elavil) and amoxapine (Asendin).
  • Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, for example desvenlafaxine (Pristiq) and duloxetine (Cymbalta).

This method requires patience since many drugs take several weeks to see the positive effects.  Never quit taking the medicine without speaking to a physician. Stopping treatment abruptly or skipping a few doses can exacerbate depressive symptoms.



Psychotherapy is a general term for treating depression by discussing your condition with a mental health professional.

Psychotherapy is also known as speech therapy or psychological counseling. Therefore, you and your therapist can discuss the right type of therapy to use. Psychotherapy can help you to:

  • Helps balance the mental state with the difficulties that are being experienced.
  • Identify problems that contribute to depression.
  • Identify negative behaviour and replace it with positive behaviour
  • Help develop positive interactions with others.
  • Relieve symptoms of depression such as despair.
  • Help set more realistic life goals.


Changing Lifestyle

Dysthymia is a condition that cannot be treated alone but requires professionals to help treat it. However, several self-care measures can be taken to reduce symptoms, including:

  • Don’t miss a session with a psychiatrist, even if you feel fine.
  • Encourage families to learn about what Dysthymia is. This is necessary to help your family understand and support you.
  • Contact your doctor or therapist if you notice any changes in dysthymia symptoms. Consider engaging a family member or friend to monitor the symptoms of Dysthymia.
  • Consumption of nutritious food, physically active, and increasing sleep time. Consider jogging, swimming, gardening, or any other activity you’d like. In addition, deep sleep is essential for physical and mental health. In case you have problems sleeping, speak with your physician about what you could do.
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs to reduce depressive-related symptoms. Talk to your doctor or therapist if you need help with overcoming alcohol or drug addiction.


Best antidepressant for dysthymia

There are several types of antidepressant drugs that are divided by how they work and the side effects they cause, including:

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)

This type of antidepressant is generally the top choice for treating depression due to its low risk of side effects. SSRIs work by suppressing the reabsorb of serotonin in the brain. Examples of SSRIs are:

  • Escitalopram
  • Fluoxetine
  • Fluvoxamine
  • Sertraline


Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs)

This group is the first type of antidepressant developed.  Although it has been used for a long time, this drug often causes many side effects when compared to other antidepressants. TCAs work by influencing the message-sending compounds in the brain so that the mood can be controlled and will relieve depression. Examples of TCAs drugs are:

  • Amitriptyline
  • Doxepin
  • Clomipramine
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Serotonin-norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs)

This sort of antidepressant operates by inhibiting dopamine and norepinephrine from being inactivated by cells. SNRIs work more specifically compared to TCAs, so the chances of side effects occurring are smaller. Examples of SNRI-class drugs are:

  • Duloxetine
  • Venlafaxine


Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)

This type of antidepressant is administered if other antidepressant drugs are unable to resolve the complaint. Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) work to inhibit the performance of noradrenaline and serotonin compounds to prevent the onset of depressive symptoms

Although safe to use, MAOI can cause a variety of side effects, especially if consumed in conjunction with certain foods. Examples of drugs of the MAOIs are:

  • Isocarboxazid
  • Phenelzine
  • Tranylcypromine
  • Seleginile


Atypical antidepressants

This sort of antidepressant differs from other antidepressants. The drug works by influencing the message-sending compounds in the brain (neurotransmitters) used to communicate between brain cells so that they can alter mood and relieve depression. Examples of atypical antidepressants are:

  • Bupropion
  • Mirtazapine

Consult a doctor first, before you consume it.


Dysthymia vs major depressive disorder


Dysthymia is a type of depression that lasts for two years or more. However, the severity of symptoms can be milder or heavier than previous types of depression.

Although it generally does not interfere with the pattern of daily activities, Dysthymia can affect the quality of life of the person. For example, being unconfident, difficult to concentrate, mindset disturbed and easily discouraged. Just like severe depression, this type of depression also has many trigger factors.


Major Depression

Major depression is one of the most common types of depression diagnosed. This type of depression is characterized by symptoms of sadness, despair, and loneliness, which last for more than two weeks. The symptoms of depression are quite serious and have an impact on the quality of life of the sufferer.

Some of the symptoms are lack of appetite, a limp body, and a tendency to shy away from those around. The cause is not yet known for sure. However, this type of depression is thought to be related to genetic factors, impaired brain chemical structure, and psychological trauma.


Depression is not just an ordinary sense of sadness. Without proper treatment, depression tends to settle and can get worse. This is what then has the potential to cause depressed people prone to attempt suicide, excessive alcohol consumption, or drug abuse.

Therefore, if you have depression, regardless of type, it is best to consult a psychiatrist so that your condition can be treated properly.

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