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 are symptoms and signs of dysthymia?
In order to meet criteria for the diagnosis of dysthymia, a person must experience depression most of every day, more days than not for at least two years in a row in adults and one year for children and teens. The dysthymia sufferer will not have more than a two-month symptom-free period during the course of the illness and must experience at least two of the following signs and symptoms of this type of depression:
- Low appetite or overeating
- Trouble sleeping or excessive sleeping
- Low self-esteem
- Trouble concentrating or making decisions
A person with dysthymia can also have major depression but never has the mania of bipolar disorder, suffers from cyclothymia, or has symptoms that are better explained by another mental-health problem, the effects of a medication, drug of abuse, or medical condition.
How do health-care professionals diagnose dysthymia?
Many providers of health care may help make the diagnosis of dysthymia, including licensed mental-health therapists, pediatricians, or other primary-care providers, specialists whom you see for a medical condition, emergency physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurses, and social workers. One of these professionals will likely conduct or refer for an extensive medical interview and physical examination as part of establishing the diagnosis. Dysthymia may be associated with a number of other medical conditions so routine laboratory tests are often performed during the initial evaluation to rule out other causes of symptoms. Occasionally, an X-ray, scan, or other imaging study may be needed.
As part of this examination, the sufferer may be asked a series of questions from a standardized questionnaire or self-test to help assess the presence of depression. Thorough exploration for any history or presence of mental-health symptoms will be conducted such that dysthymia can be distinguished from other types of depression like major depression, depressive symptoms in reaction to stress (adjustment disorder), or depression as part of the mood swings of bipolar disorder or cyclothymia. The mental-health professional will also explore whether other forms of mental illness are present.
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