What is it?

Dysthymia, sometimes referred to as mild, chronic depression, is less severe and has fewer symptoms than major depression. With dysthymia, the depression symptoms can linger for a long period of time, often two years or longer. Those who suffer from dysthymia can also experience periods of major depression -sometimes called "double depression." Now days, dysthymia and chronic depression are both referred to as persistent depressive disorder.

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Additional names

This group contains additional names:
- Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD)
- Dysthymic Disorder

Signs & symptoms

Dysthymia is milder, yet more long-lasting than major depression. Each person may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

- Lasting sad, anxious, or empty mood
- Less ability to concentrate, think, and/or make decisions
- Less energy
- Fatigue
- Feeling hopeless
- Weight and/or appetite changes due to over- or under-eating
- Changes in sleep patterns, such as fitful sleep, inability to sleep, early morning awakening, or sleeping too much
- Low self-esteem

To diagnose this condition, an adult must have a depressed mood for at least 2 years, along with at least 2 of the above symptoms.


A mental health specialist generally makes the diagnosis based on the person's symptoms. In the case of dysthymia, these symptoms will have lasted for a longer period of time and be less severe than in patients with major depression. With dysthymia, your doctor will want to make sure that the symptoms are not a result of a physical condition.


Treatment for dysthymia may include one or a combination of the following:
- Medicine: Many different medicines are available to treat depression. It often takes 4 to 6 weeks for antidepressants to have a full effect. It’s important to keep taking the medicine, even if it doesn’t seem to be working at first. It’s also important to talk to your healthcare provider before stopping. Some people have to switch medicines or add medicines to get results.
- Therapy: This is most often cognitive behavioral or interpersonal therapy. It focuses on changing distorted views of yourself and your environment. It also works to improve relationship skills, and identify and manage stressors.

Because this condition usually lasts for longer than 2 years, long-term treatment may be needed.

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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