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Dysthymia (Persistent Depressive Disorder)

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Persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia) facts

  • Dysthymia, now referred to as persistent depressive disorder, is a form of depression that lasts more than two years at a time in adults and more than one year at a time in children and adolescents.
  • Dysthymia can afflict 3%-6% of the United States population -- women more than men and more African-Americans than Caucasians and some groups of Hispanic people.
  • Persistent depressive disorder usually co-occurs with other disorders, like major depression, anxiety, personality or somatic symptom and related disorders, and with substance abuse.
  • People with dysthymia tend to have a number of biological, psychological, and environmental predisposing factors that contribute to its occurrence rather than one single cause of the condition.
  • In order to meet criteria for the diagnosis of persistent depressive disorder, an individual must have symptoms of sadness most of every day, more days than not, for at least two years in a row in adults, or one year for children and teens.
  • Health-care professionals will likely conduct or refer for an extensive medical interview and physical examination and will perform a thorough mental-health evaluation as part of establishing the diagnosis of dysthymia.
  • The treatment of persistent depressive disorder tends to be most effective when it includes both medication treatment and several weeks of talk therapy (psychotherapy).
  • Serotonergic medications (SSRIs) are often the first-line medication treatment for dysthymia due to their effectiveness, safety, and high tolerability.
  • Cognitive behavioral psychotherapy (CBT) is effective as part of treatment for persistent depressive disorder.
  • People with dysthymia are at risk for having a compromised life adjustment, marital problems, and generally having low social support, even more so than people with major depression.
  • Attempts at prevention of persistent depressive disorder tend to focus on both specific and nonspecific risk factors and strengthen protective factors.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/8/2016


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