What is persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia)?



Persistent depressive disorder is a mood disorder with chronic symptoms similar to depression. The symptoms of persistent depressive disorder are usually less severe than those of major depressive disorder ( clinical depression ) and are known to last longer.

The disorder was previously called dysthymia or dysthymic disorder, but the name was changed in the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). DSM-5 reflects the updated name for this mood disorder, which is a combination of chronic major depressive disorder and dysthymia. Here we take a closer look at persistent depressive disorder, its symptoms, causes, and treatment.

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What is persistent depressive disorder?

The meaning of "dysthymia" in Greek is "bad mood." In the fifth edition of the DSM, updated to its current name, Persistent Depressive Disorder, it is considered one of the two main forms of depression. , the second is severe depressive disorder.

Persistent depressive disorder usually has fewer severe symptoms than major depressive disorder, but it is known to last for a long time. In fact, persistent depressive disorder often includes a continuous depressed mood for at least two years, as well as at least two qualifying symptoms .

Persistent depressive disorder is considered a mood disorder (along with conditions such as bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder). Women are known to suffer from this disease twice as often as men .

Persistent depressive disorder affects the way a person thinks about himself, negatively affects mood, and also affects a person's thoughts. A mood disorder, such as persistent depressive disorder, is different from simply experiencing sadness or being in a bad mood. This is due to a certain course of the disease, from which a person cannot just get rid of it or get rid of it, as after a bad day. In contrast, people with a mood disorder often need treatment to feel better .

Although persistent depressive disorder is considered a milder form of depression, people with the disorder can still experience recurring episodes of major depression.


When it comes to the symptoms of any mental disorder, including persistent depressive disorder, the DSM-5 criteria must be observed, detailing what symptoms, traits, and characteristics must be present in order to be diagnosed with a mental illness.

The DSM-5 defines persistent depressive disorder as a long-term mood disorder with an insidious onset of at least two years of depressed mood. The condition should also cause significant stress and dysfunction in important areas of your life .

Symptoms of persistent depressive disorder can include:

  • Sad, anxious, or empty mood that lasts
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Concentration problems
  • Inability to make decisions easily.
  • Disruption of normal thought processes.
  • Low energy level
  • Fatigue
  • Increase or decrease in appetite, affecting a person's body weight.
  • Insomnia (insomnia)
  • Wake up early
  • Sleeping too much
  • Low self-esteem

Corresponding symptoms

While a person with persistent depressive disorder can have many different symptoms, there are some specific signs that must be present for this type of depression to be formally diagnosed. For example, an adult with persistent depressive disorder must have a depressed mood for at least two years to be eligible for a diagnosis (for a teenager or child, a depressed mood lasts only one year). To have a depressed mood, a person must have at least two of the qualifying symptoms, including :

  • Binge
  • Poor appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Excessive sleep
  • Low energy
  • Fatigue
  • Low self-esteem
  • Poor concentration
  • Indecision
  • Despair.

People with persistent depressive disorder get used to their mild symptoms and often do not seek help, so the person is often not diagnosed. If you have had at least two of the above symptoms and have been depressed for at least two years (if you are an adult), it is important that you have a medical exam.


Often times, the diagnosis of persistent depressive disorder is made in conjunction with other medical or mental conditions, such as substance abuse or anxiety disorder. The diagnostic process may include:

  • Psychiatric Evaluation: A medical history and psychiatric evaluation that includes detailed questions about your symptoms (such as your thoughts, feelings, and behavior). Sometimes the questions are asked in writing.
  • Family history: used to determine if there is any mental illness in your family (depression is known to run in the family).
  • Diagnostic Evaluation: The information collected during the psychiatric evaluation is compared to the DSM-5 criteria established by the American Psychiatric Association.


While there is no single cause of depressive disorders, including persistent depressive disorder, experts believe that the condition may be due to a chemical imbalance in the brain. Several factors are associated with persistent depressive disorder, including:

  • Environmental factors: for example, loss or separation of parents during childhood .
  • Temperament factors: for example, negative affective and thought patterns .
  • Biological factors: for example, the chemical composition of the human brain.
  • Genetic Factors: Depression is inherited, there may be a genetic link to the disease, but there are no specific genes associated with persistent depressive disorder yet .

Persistent depressive disorder is associated with long-term (chronic) stress and trauma .

Watch out


Today, there are many different types of antidepressants that are effective in treating depression. One downside to medications is that they can take several weeks to work and reduce symptoms. Even if they don't seem to work at first, it is very important that you continue to take your antidepressants as directed by your healthcare provider.

These medications can have unpleasant side effects (depending on the antidepressant you are taking). Be sure to tell your doctor about any side effects. Also, keep in mind that many side effects go away over time. If they persist, your doctor may prescribe a different type of antidepressant.


There are several therapies that are often used for persistent depressive disorder. Therapy aims to help a person with persistent depressive disorder change distorted images of himself and perceptions of the environment. Psychotherapy also aims to help the person with persistent depressive disorder work to improve relationships and manage stress effectively. Common types of psychotherapy for persistent depressive disorder include:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): A form of psychotherapy that has been shown to be effective in addressing a wide range of problems.
  • Interpersonal therapy: focuses primarily on the impact of your current relationship on your mood.
  • Psychodynamic Psychotherapy – explores the underlying conflicts and unconscious dynamics that can contribute to your depression.

Because persistent depressive disorder is considered chronic, long-term therapy may be required.

Front facing

There are many things you can do yourself to alleviate some of the symptoms of depression, including many lifestyle changes, such as:

  • Seeking professional help
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • I'm trying to get enough sleep
  • Set small, achievable goals and keep setting small goals until you reach bigger goals.
  • We try to communicate with friends and family as much as possible.
  • Avoid alcohol (and drugs)
  • Eliminate negative thinking stereotypes
  • Participation in a regular exercise program (with the approval of your healthcare provider)

Get Meds Info Word

Please note that persistent depressive disorder is a serious medical condition and treatment is available. With an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment, most people can learn to live with a persistent depressive disorder, and many get relief from their symptoms. If you have symptoms of a persistent depressive disorder, be sure to talk to your healthcare provider; Don't be afraid to ask for a referral to a mental health professional for a comprehensive or diagnostic evaluation. This is the first step in taking care of your mental health.

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