Dysthymia is a mood disorder and form of chronic depression that lasts two years or more. The precise cause of dysthymia is unknown. Although the symptoms are not as harsh as those of other forms of depression, affected individuals struggle nearly every day with low self-esteem, despair and hopelessness. Dysthymia occurs more often in women than in men and affects up to 5% of the general population. Dysthymia can occur alone or in combination with more severe depression or other mood or psychiatric disorders, substance use disorders or compulsive behaviors (sometimes used to self-medicate or cope with the symptoms of dysthymia). Learn more about The Ranch mental health treatment program or call 888-844-5865.
Dysthymia Symptoms and Signs
The main symptom of dysthymia is low, dark or sad moods daily for at least two years. Other symptoms can include:
- Poor appetite or overeating
- Feeling helpless
- Apathy or loss of interest in once enjoyable activities
- Insomnia or excessive sleep
- Physical symptoms such as aches, headaches or digestive issues
- Low energy or fatigue
- Withdrawal or social isolation
- Low self-esteem
- Suicidal thoughts
- Poor concentration
- Feelings of hopelessness
Causes of Dysthymia
The exact cause of dysthymia is unknown, but research indicates that it can result from a combination of genetics, biochemistry and environmental factors. A family history of depression is often present in those with dysthymia and/or an imbalance in brain chemistry. Environmental factors may also come into play and often dysthymia is triggered or intensified by life stressors.
As with other forms of depression, there are a number of treatment options for individuals with dysthymia. Research shows effective treatment typically includes a combination of psychotherapy, group support and antidepressants. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) have proven effective as well as talk therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy.
By definition, dysthymia is a chronic condition lasting many years. Though some people completely recover, others continue to have some symptoms despite treatment. Long-term maintenance medication and therapy may be required.
The Ranch treatment center has depression specialists who are trained to treat the full spectrum of mood disorders and co-occurring psychiatric conditions. We provide clients with the skills needed to manage their mental health challenges and develop the insight and support system needed to manage triggers and psychiatric symptoms long-term.