Dysthymia (cont.)

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What is the prognosis of dysthymia?

People with dysthymia are at risk for having a compromised life adjustment, marital problems, and generally having low social support. It is thought that these risks are greater for dysthymia sufferers than even people with major depression because of the chronic nature of the illness and the greater influence of life stressors in the development of dysthymia. Having another mental-health condition, a history of trauma, or history of poor family relationships during childhood further negatively affects the prognosis of people with dysthymic disorder. The age that someone first develops dysthymia is also important to his or her prognosis. Those who experience their first episode of the illness prior to 21 years of age tend to have a worse prognosis than people who first have dysthymia at 21 years of age or older.

Is it possible to prevent dysthymia?

Attempts at prevention of dysthymia tend to address both specific and nonspecific risk factors and strengthen protective factors. Such programs often use cognitive behavioral and/or interpersonal approaches, as well as family based prevention strategies because research shows that these interventions are the most helpful.

The inverse of most risk factors, protective factors for depression include having the involvement of supportive family, strengthening family and peer relationships, developing healthy coping skills, and skills in emotional regulation. Children of a dysthymic parent tend to be more resilient when the child is more able to focus on age-appropriate tasks in their lives and on their relationships, as well as being able to understand their parents' illness. For depressed adults, their children seem to be more protected from developing the illness when the parent is able to demonstrate a commitment to parenting and to relationships.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/5/2014

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