Dysthymia is one of the mood disorders characterized by depression which is of old duration but less severe in intensity than the major depression. It is also considered a mild type of depression. In this disorder, people remain undiagnosed and continually suffer from these depressive symptoms. This is also seen to run in the families. These people feel that they are under some degrees of continuous stress. This chronic disorder is usually characterized by the early and gradual onset in children or adults. In case of adults, around 75% of the people with this disorder may culminate into Major Depressive Disorder within the period of 5 years. The spontaneous recovery ratio for dysthymia is approximately 10% per annual. This recovery rate can be significantly improved with active treatment.

Signs and Symptoms

In these patients, similar symptoms like that of a major type of depression are seen. These include anxiety, no hope, sadness, despair, appetite loss, frustration, abrupt bursting into anger, poor sleep, or there may be excess of sleep, irritation, and aggressiveness, lack of concentration in anything, loss of libido and patient become somewhat dull and lethargic.


The exact cause of this disease is not known. It is found in the people of same families so first degrees relatives are more prone to develop dysthymia. It can be due to some medical reasons or the chronic use of drugs of abuse, alcohol, smoking etc. In elder due to some mental dysfunction or any mental illness along with isolation problems lead to this type of depression. It is seen that this type of depression is not caused by the use of any medically approved drug.


There is not a perfect criterion for detecting it. It is diagnosed on the basis of its symptoms of chronic nature. Depression for more than two years or frequent episodes of these depressive symptoms is diagnosed as dysthymia. There is also one criterion about this disease’s diagnosis that depressive symptoms of lethargy, sadness, and anxiety remain for two months consecutively at least in a year or two.


This is done through the use of a certain antidepressant. Nowadays the best medicines considered for this depression or for other depressions are selective serotonin uptake inhibitors and this group important drugs are fluoxetine, sertraline, citalopram, and paroxetine. These drugs act to enhance the monoamine neurotransmitters, norepinephrine, and serotonin which are important for different ranges of good moods. Combinations of other drugs such as anti-anxiety and mood stabilizers are also helpful in treating this disorder.


If this disorder is not treated on time it will lead to clinically significant distress as well as impairment in the social life of a person, his occupational life can also get disturbed and his other important functioning as result of wide ranges of mood disturbances. In children, this disorder is often associated with poor school performance and lack of social interaction. Children and adults with this disorder are usually cranky and depressed all the time. They become more pessimistic about the passage of time. In adult people, this disorder is associated with an increased risk of suffering from the major depression and substance-related disorders. In children, this disorder can lead to an increased risk of suffering from attention-deficit or hyperactivity disorder, anxiety disorders, conduct disorder learning disorders as well as mental retardation.