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Dysthymia is defined as a mild form of chronic depression. It makes a person live a reasonably functional life but such person lacks self-confidence and self-worth. Literally, dysthymia means “ill humored”, a life lacking in color and definition, in joy and vibrancy and pleasure. A person suffering from dysthymia is unable to derive pleasure from events or stimuli formerly found to be pleasurable. He tends to be irritable and self-critical, and ponders on past events, disappointments, or personal slights. He becomes socially withdrawn and isolated overtime due to his inability to obtain or provide pleasure within social relationships.



Dysthymia is derived from the Greek words dys- which means bad, and thymia. The term denotes a sub-clinical psychotic condition which means "abnormal or disordered feelings". Classical dysthymia refers to the "feeling" that something is real which is not in reality (for instance, the "feeling" that one knows what others are thinking) - or to the "understanding" that an underlying social dynamic is real which is actually not. It was believed in ancient times that the thymus "gland" was the heart of all emotions, and that if one is depressed, that person is said to have a "dysfunctional thymus" or "Dysthymia". Dysthymia is used to denote any type of depression in general and not considered as a specific disorder.


To be diagnosed with dysthymia, the person must be suffering from a depressed mood for over two years, occurring on an almost regular basis, and with at least two of these symptoms: a) poor appetite or overeating; b) insomnia or oversleeping; c) fatigue or low energy; d) low self-esteem; e) poor concentration; f) problems in decision making, and g) hopelessness.


Exact cause of dysthymia is unknown. Dysthymia may result from the interaction of various factors just like in other depressive conditions.

1. Research shows that individuals can inherit a predisposition to develop depressive conditions.

2. Imbalances or impaired brain chemistry functioning is associated with mood and changes in brain neurotransmitters can affect thoughts, emotions and behavior.

3. Depressive conditions may likewise arise from environmental factors. Stress, disappointments, and/or trauma resulting from such things as unemployment, personal failures or tragedies, and family breakdown, can trigger depression.

4. Psychological factors may likewise contribute to the development of depression. Behavioral explanations suggest that depression may be a product of "learnt helplessness" arising from a repeated loss of positive reinforcement and, perhaps, increased rate of negative life events among other things.

5. One’s attitude and point of views can worsen depression by maintaining negative and/or unrealistic beliefs about one’s self, about one’s friends and family and about one’s future.


Dysthymia is treated similar to other major depression. A combination of treatments proves to be the most effective.

1. Medication: Research indicates a positive reaction to antidepressant medication, especially to the newer generation of drugs such as Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Effexor and Serzone.

2. Cognitive Therapy: A unique form of talk therapy, cognitive therapy aids you in understanding how your thoughts affect your feelings.

3. Interpersonal Therapy: As relatively newer form of brief individual psychological therapy, IPT demonstrates to be effective in treating dysthymia.

4. Peer support: Learning more about the disorder and seeking information and support on how to cope with such mood disorders is found to have a positive impact on recovery and prevention of relapse.

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