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Dysthymia is a mild-to-moderate, but chronic depression that lasts for 2 years or longer.
The cause of dysthymia is not known. A chemical in the brain called serotonin may play a role.
|Brainstem—Location of Serotonin Production|
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Dysthymia is more common in women than in men. Other factors that may increase your chance of dysthymia include:
- Family history of major depression or dysthymia
- Chronic mental or physical illness
- Chronic stress
- Environmental factors
People who have dysthymia may also experience episodes of major depression.
Dysthymia may be difficult to differentiate from depression because symptoms overlap. These may include:
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical and psychological exam will be given.
Your doctor may refer you to a specialist for further evaluation. Tests may be done to look for medical causes like thyroid problems or anemia .
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment may include one or more of the following:
Antidepressant medications may help to manage symptoms. Antidepressants take a few weeks to begin working. Take them as directed by your doctor.
Therapy can help change unhealthy thought patterns. Psychotherapy may include:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Family therapy
- Interpersonal therapy
In addition to medications and therapy, the following lifestyle modifications may help you feel better:
National Institute of Mental Health
National Mental Health Association
Canadian Mental Health Association
Canadian Psychiatric Association
Major depressive disorder (MDD). EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116638/Major-depressive-disorder-MDD . Updated July 19, 2017. Accessed October 4, 2017.
Depression. Mental Health America website. Available at: http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/depression. Accessed October 4, 2017.
Depressive disorders. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/psychiatric-disorders/mood-disorders/depressive-disorders. Updated August 2016. Accessed October 4, 2017.
Dysthymic disorder. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: https://familydoctor.org/condition/dysthymic-disorder. Updated August 2017. Accessed October 4, 2017.
- Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrian Preda, MD
- Review Date: 09/2018
- Update Date: 10/12/2015