What is Dysthymia? Do I Have It?

Your friends and family tell you to relax and lighten up, and that you seem to be silent and sluggish lately. Are they right?. Are you really being this way?

You do seem to be in a sad mood all the time, feeling this way more often than you feel good. You almost know you are not depressed because you don't stay in bed all day. But, you are concerned that maybe it is by nature that you are a person who is down all the time.

I would say no. Most people experience being blue or down only sometimes, but a person who feels blue or sad over a period of years and can’t seem to feel better or improve maybe suffering from dysthymia.

Dysthymia is a chronic, but mild form of depression. More research and knowledge of dysthymia is on the rise. Doctors are now diagnosing more patients with this disorder.

Most patients report first experiencing dysthymia symptoms in their teens or early twenties.

People who have dysthymia have at least two of the symptoms that are used to diagnose major depression.

Here are the symptoms of dysthymia:

  • Trouble Sleeping
  • Hopelessness
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Low Self Esteem
  • Problems Concentrating

People with major depression may have all of these symptoms, but will often experience interruptions of their symptoms by periods of normal functioning. In contrast, dysthymia is consistent in nature, most patients believe that how they are feeling is normal for them. In most cases, symptoms last a minimum of two years, with not more than a two month period of time with relief or "feeling normal".


Dysthymia can be cured with the help of psychotherapy and the medication Prozac, for instance.

Diet, exercise and experimenting with herbs such as St. John's wort may also help.

Photo: Flickr Creative Commons

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