Posts Tagged ‘Dysthymia’

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

Dysthymia: Often Chronic, Always Serious

Johns Hopkins Health Alert

Dysthymia is a chronic form of depression that is characterized by the presence of a depressed mood for most of the day, for more days than not, over a period of at least two years. Dysthymia may be intermittent and interspersed with periods of feeling normal, but these periods of improvement last for no more than two months.

Dysthymia often goes unnoticed. And because of its chronic nature, the person may come to believe, “I’ve always been this way.” In addition to depressed mood, symptoms of dysthymia include two or more of the following:

It is far better to treat dysthymia than to think of it as a minor condition. Bypassing treatment places people at increased risk for subsequently developing major depression. In fact, about 10 percent of people with dysthymia also have recurrent episodes of major depression, a condition known as double depression.

What causes of dysthymia?  Some medical conditions, including neurological disorders (such as multiple sclerosis and stroke), hypothyroidism, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, are associated with dysthymia. Investigators believe that, in these cases, developing dysthymia is not a psychological reaction to being ill but rather is a biological effect of these disorders.

There are many reasons for this connection. It may be that these medical conditions interfere with the action of neurotransmitters, or that medications (such as corticosteroids or beta-blockers) taken for a medical illness may trigger the dysthymia or that both dysthymia and the medical illness are related in some other way, reinforcing each other in a complicated manner.

Dysthymia can also follow severe psychological stress, such as losing a spouse or caring for a chronically ill loved one. Older people who have never had psychiatric disorders are particularly susceptible to developing dysthymia after significant life stresses.

Posted in Depression and Anxiety on October 16, 2012

Medical Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute for the advice of a physician. Click here for additional information: Johns Hopkins Health Alerts Disclaimer


Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: