Persistent Depressive Disorder (Dysthymia)

February 17, 2014 at 4:00 PM

Persistent depressive disorder, previously known as dysthymia, is a type of mood disorder, which is less severe, yet more chronic, than it’s more acute counterpart, major depression.  The Greek word dysthymia means “bad state of mind” or “ill humor.”  Symptoms may include:

  • Persistent sadness

  • Feeling hopeless or helpless

  • Low self-esteem or self-worth

  • Excessive guilt

  • Difficulty with relationships

  • Sleep disturbances (for example, insomnia or hypersomnia)

  • Changes in appetite or weight

  • Decreased energy

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Irritability, hostility, aggression

  • A decrease in the ability to make decisions

  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts

  • Frequent physical complaints (for example, headache, stomachache, or fatigue)

  • Loss of interest in usual activities or activities once enjoyed

  • Hypersensitivity to failure or rejection

Symptoms of persistent depressive disorder may resemble other medical problems or psychiatric conditions, and depression can often coexist with other psychiatric disorders, such as substance abuse or anxiety disorders.  Early diagnosis and treatment is crucial to recovery.

Mood disorders, including persistent depressive disorder, can often be effectively treated with psychotherapy (most often cognitive-behavioral and/or interpersonal therapy).  Since episodes of persistent depressive disorder may last for longer than five years, long-term, continued treatment may help to prevent reoccurrence of the depressive symptoms.

Some information for this article was taken from a University of Rochester Encyclopedia article on Persistent Depressive Disorder in Children (


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