Dysthymia is a mild but chronic form of depression. Dysthymia symptoms usually last for at least two years, and often much longer than that, especially when the condition starts in childhood.
Although the symptoms of dysthymia may be less intense than those of depression, dysthymia can actually affect your life more seriously because it lasts so long. With dysthymia, you may lose interest in normal daily activities, feel hopeless, lack productivity and have a low self-esteem. In general, dysthymia prevents you from living life to its fullest, and your overall quality of life may be low. Dysthymia is also known as dysthymic disorder and sometimes as chronic depression and minor depression.
Signs and symptoms of dysthymia include:
- Loss of interest in daily activities
- Feeling sad or down
- Poor appetite
- Sleep problems
- Lack of energy
- Low self-esteem
- Trouble concentrating
- Trouble making decisions
- Excessive anger
- Decreased productivity
- Avoiding social activities
- Feelings of guilt
Dysthymia symptoms typically come and go over a period of years, and their intensity can change over time, too. But in general, you may find it hard to be upbeat even on happy occasions — you may be characterized as having a gloomy personality.
When To See A Doctor
It's perfectly normal to feel sad or upset sometimes, or to be unhappy with stressful situations in your life. But with dysthymia, these feelings last for years and interfere with your relationships, work and daily activities.
If you have any symptoms of dysthymia, seek medical help as soon as possible. Dysthymia usually doesn't get better on its own, and it may even get worse if left untreated. In fact, if not effectively treated, dysthymia commonly progresses into depression (major depression). When you have both dysthymia and depression, it's known as double depression.
If you have a primary care doctor, talk to him or her about your symptoms. Or seek help directly from a mental health provider. If you're reluctant to see a mental health professional, reach out to someone else who may be able to help guide you to treatment, whether it's a friend or loved one, a teacher, a faith leader or someone else you trust.