Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD
Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards is an adult, child, and adolescent psychiatrist. She is a former Chair of the Committee on Developmental Disabilities for the American Psychiatric Association, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and Medical Director of the National Center for Children and Families in Bethesda, Maryland.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
In this Article
- Dysthymia facts
- What is dysthymia?
- What are causes and risk factors for dysthymia?
- What are symptoms and signs of dysthymia?
- How do health-care professionals diagnose dysthymia?
- What is the treatment for dysthymia?
- What is the prognosis of dysthymia?
- Is it possible to prevent dysthymia?
- Are there support groups for people with dysthymia?
- Find a local Psychiatrist in your town
What is dysthymia?
Dysthymia, now referred to as persistent depressive disorder, is a form of depression that tends to be characterized by fatigue, low energy, low self-esteem, and changes in appetite or sleep. This mood disorder tends to be less severe than major depression. However, dysthymia is chronic, in that despite potential brief periods of normal mood, it lasts more than two years at a time in adults and more than one year at a time in children and adolescents.
The cost of dysthymic disorder to individuals with dysthymia, their families, and society is significant. For example, people with this illness can be twice as likely to develop dementia and therefore be unable to care for themselves compared to those without dysthymia.
Statistics on dysthymia include its affecting 3%-6% of the population and up to one-third of people receiving outpatient mental-health services in the United States. It tends to afflict women at a higher rate than men. In contrast to the prevalence of major depression in ethnic groups in the United States, dysthymia tends to be more common in African Americans than in Caucasian and some Hispanic Americans.
Dysthymic disorder usually co-occurs (is comorbid) with other disorders, most commonly with major depression, anxiety, personality or somatoform disorders, as well as with alcohol or other drug abuse.
What are causes and risk factors for dysthymia?
As with most mental-health disorders, dysthymia does not have one single definitive cause. Rather, people with this illness tend to have a number of biological, psychological, and environmental risk factors that contribute to its development. Different areas of the brain of people with dysthymia tend to respond differently to negative emotions like fear and sadness, as well as to some physical sensations compared to the brains of people without the disorder. Genetic risk factors for developing dysthymic disorder include the tendency for those who suffer from this illness to have a family member who also suffer from either dysthymia, major depression, or a personality disorder. Significant stress during childhood or adulthood and having negative social supports are psychosocial risk factors for dysthymia.
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