Dysthymia

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Dysthymia (also called dysthymic disorder or neurotic depression) is a type of mental illness called a mood disorder. People with dysthymia have depression that is mild to moderate and lasts for years.

Dysthymia is a chronic (long-lasting) condition. A person must have symptoms for at least two years to qualify for a diagnosis of dysthymia.

The symptoms of dysthymia and major depressive disorder are similar. Both disorders can have serious effects on the body, mind, and emotions. Physical symptoms can include changes in appetite, low energy, feeling tired, and trouble sleeping. Mental symptoms include difficulty making decisions or concentrating. Emotionally, people with either disorder often feel hopeless and have low self-esteem. However, even though both disorders have similar symptoms, these symptoms are usually less severe with dysthymia.

Like with major depressive disorder, people with dysthymia may think about suicide or try to kill themselves. Dysthymia does not involve mania, hypomania (mild forms of mania), or mixed episodes (where a person has symptoms of both depression and mania).

Sometimes, people with dysthymia have "double depression." This happens when a person with dysthymia has episodes of major depression (where their depression gets much worse) on top of their existing dysthymia.

Dysthymia usually affects adults, though it can affect teenagers. People who are diagnosed early (before age 22) usually have more severe relapses (where they return to being dysthymic after having been healthy), and are more likely to have other mental illnesses along with their dysthymia.