Dysthymic disorder, or dysthymia, is a type of depression that lasts at least 2 years. Some people suffer from dysthymia for many years. Usually, your depression is mild or moderate rather than severe. Most people with dysthymia can not secure the first time it is depressed.
Dysthymic disorder symptoms include poor appetite or overeating, difficulty sleeping or oversleeping, low energy, fatigue and feelings of hopelessness. It is possible that persons with dysthymic disorder have periods of normal mood that last up to 2 months. It is possible that family members and friends do not know that their loved one is depressed. Although this type of depression is mild, it could hinder the functioning of a person at home, at school or at work.
Dysthymic disorder is a fairly common type of depression. It is estimated that up to 4% of people have this condition. Dysthymia can begin in childhood or adulthood. No one knows what, but, as in most types of depression, may be more common in women.
No one knows for sure what causes dysthymia. This could be related to changes in the brain that involve a chemical called serotonin. Serotonin helps your brain handle emotions and make judgments. Other medical problems and constant stress of life also play a role.
If you think you have dysthymia, discuss your concerns with your doctor. Your doctor will ask questions to determine if you have depression and, if so, identify the type of depression you have. Your doctor may ask you questions about your health and your symptoms, such as how well you’re sleeping, if you feel tired often and if you have trouble concentrating. Your doctor will also consider medical reasons that might make you feel depressed, like thyroid problems or a particular drug you may be taking.