Dysthymia - Symptoms

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What are symptoms and signs of dysthymia?

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 and one year for children and teens. The dysthymia sufferer will not have more than a two-month symptom-free period during the course of the illness and must experience at least two of the following signs and symptoms of this type of depression:

  • Low appetite or overeating
  • Trouble sleeping or excessive sleeping
  • Tiredness
  • Low self-esteem
  • Trouble concentrating or making decisions
  • Hopelessness

A person with dysthymia can also have major depression but never has the mania of bipolar disorder, suffers from cyclothymia, or has symptoms that are better explained by another mental-health problem, the effects of a medication, drug of abuse, or medical condition.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: No Longer Blue, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: November 08

I am 45 and I have been successfully treated for dysthymia which started when I began to go into puberty. I used to feel sad and even when I felt sort of OK, everything was an effort. My thinking was negative. Socially I was sort of paranoid, very insecure, because of the negative thinking and chronically down mood. I lived under a cloud. I was able to function and I graduated from college this way but life was always very hard. After college when I started an SSRI antidepressant it was like turning a key in a lock. Everything just changed. The world had colors and I could begin to think differently. Over the years the negative thought habits went away, I benefitted greatly from therapy because my thoughts were clearer. More than half my life has now been spent with this problem being in remission. Every now and then it peeks out at me to remind me how lucky I am to be well. I will always take the medication. All I have to do to start to slip is miss some doses. Life is wonderful today! I would encourage anyone with a chronic low mood and feelings of hopelessness to get help. Life can be beautiful and you can be well!

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Comment from: Terri, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: February 03

I have dealt with dysthymia since about puberty. Of course, it didn't have a name at the time. I saw a psychologist who finally nailed that one after an extensive (what seemed like hundreds of questions) test that finally put a name to it. I have no reason to be depressed because I have everything I need and have always wanted. I found a great guy who became my husband, we have 3 children, and I have a job as a nurse, so I am never worried that I won't be without a job or that kind of stability. Still, I feel I am in need of additional treatment as this depression still continues. I consistently exercise, which I do think helps, but isn't enough. I hate being reliant on medications, but don't see any other alternative. Oh, I am currently on Pristiq. In the past, I have been on other meds, mostly SSRI's. This is the first SNRI. I also was on bupropion but my husband noted it made my memory terrible and me very irritable, so that was stopped.

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