Dysthymia disorder is a depressive mood disorder characterized by a chronic course and an insidious onset. this condition has a duration of at least 2 years in adults and 1 year in adolescents and children. It is manifested as a depressed mood, or irritable mood in children, for most of the day, occurring for more days. People with dysthymia generally experience little or no joy in their lives. Instead things are rather gloomy most of the time. Dysthymia is a milder yet more enduring type of depression that affects women two to three times more often than men. People with dysthymia may appear to be chronically mildly depressed to the point that it seems to be a part of their personality.The exact reason for the disease is not known. Genes may play a role, but many affected people will not have a family history of depression. Abnormal functioning in brain circuits or nerve cell pathways that connect different brain regions regulating mood are also thought to be involved.
The symptoms of dysthymia are the same as those of major depression but fewer in number and not as intense. They include the following:
• Sadness or depressed mood most of the day or almost every day
• Loss of enjoyment in things that were once pleasurable
• Insomnia or excessive sleep almost every day
• Being physically restless or rundown in a way that is noticeable by others
• Problems with concentration or making decisions almost every day
A mental health specialist generally makes the diagnosis based on the person's symptoms. In the case of dysthymia, the above symptoms will have lasted for a longer period of time and be less severe than in patients with major depression. While dysthymia is a serious illness, it’s also very treatable. As with any chronic illness, early diagnosis and medical treatment may reduce the intensity and duration of symptoms and also reduce the likelihood of developing an episode of major depression. To treat dysthymia, doctors may use psychotherapy (talk therapy),medications such as antidepressants, or a combination of these therapies. Often, dysthymia can be treated by a primary care physician.
Data from a survey of in Ireland communities showed that dysthymia affected approximately 3% of the adult population. It was more common in women under age 65, unmarried persons, and young persons with low income and was associated with greater use of general health and psychiatric services and psychotropic drugs. Dysthymia had a high association with other psychiatric disorders, particularly major depression; only about 25%-30% of cases occur over a lifetime in the absence of other psychiatric disorders. The findings suggest that although the onset and highest risk periods of major depression and bipolar disorder are in young adulthood, a residual state of dysthymia occurs in middle and old age.