Dysthymia (Persistent Depressive Disorder)

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Dysthymia facts

  • Dysthymia, now referred to as persistent depressive disorder, is a form of depression that lasts more than two years at a time in adults and more than one year at a time in children and adolescents.
  • Dysthymia can afflict 3%-6% of the United States population -- women more than men and more African Americans than Caucasian and some groups of Hispanic people.
  • Dysthymic disorder usually co-occurs with other disorders, like major depression, anxiety, personality or somatoform disorders, and with substance abuse.
  • People with dysthymia tend to have a number of biological, psychological, and environmental risk factors that contribute to its development rather than one single cause of the illness.
  • In order to meet criteria for the diagnosis of dysthymia, a person must experience depression most of every day, more days than not for at least two years in a row in adults, one year for children and teens.
  • Health professionals will likely conduct or refer for an extensive medical interview and physical examination and will conduct a thorough mental-health assessment as part of establishing the diagnosis of dysthymia.
  • The treatment of dysthymia is found to be most effective when it includes both medication treatment and several weeks of talk therapy (psychotherapy).
  • Serotonergic medications (SSRIs) are often the first-line medication treatment for dysthymia due to their effectiveness and high tolerability.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is effective as part of treatment for dysthymia.
  • People with dysthymia are at risk for having a compromised life adjustment, marital problems, and generally having low social support, even more so than people with major depression.
  • Attempts at prevention of dysthymia tend to address both specific and nonspecific risk factors and strengthen protective factors.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/5/2014

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Dysthymia - Symptoms Question: What were your symptoms of dysthymia?
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Dysthymia - Psychotherapy Question: If you have depression (dysthymia), have you tried psychotherapy? Please share your experience.
Dysthymia - Antidepressants Question: Please discuss your experience with any medications you've been prescribed for depression (dysthymia).
Dysthymia - Additional Support Question: Besides medication and talk therapy, what other ways have helped you deal with dysthymia?