Dysthymia Symptoms

Dysthymia is a chronic mood disorder that falls under the umbrella of depressive disorders. It is characterized by persistent, low-grade depressive symptoms that last for at least two years. This condition can subtly begin during adolescence and continue with brief periods of remission for many years or even decades.

The Nature of Dysthymia

Dysthymia, also known as persistent depressive disorder, is a long-term, less severe form of depression. It is marked by a chronically low mood that is present most of the time, on most days. Individuals with this condition often display a pessimistic outlook, passivity, lethargy, introversion, and a critical attitude towards themselves and others. They are also more likely to have co-existing anxiety disorders.

The general mood of depression is often accompanied by low self-esteem, difficulty concentrating, and a reduced ability to think clearly or make decisions. Periodically, dysthymia can be complicated by episodes of major depression, making the condition more severe.

Symptoms and Signs

The symptoms of dysthymia are varied and can range from common to rare. They include:

  • Anhedonia (loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed)
  • Anguish
  • Asthenia (abnormal physical weakness or lack of energy)
  • Depression
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Mood disorders
  • Insomnia
  • Nervousness
  • Drowsiness

Less common symptoms can include:

  • Lowering of the voice
  • Anorexia
  • Increased appetite
  • Decrease in sexual desire
  • Heart palpitations
  • Hyperphagia (excessive hunger or increased appetite)
  • Social isolation
  • Weight loss

In addition to these symptoms, dysthymia can also present with somatic and organic signs, such as changes in weight or appetite, fatigue or reduced energy, and sleep disturbances. It may also be associated with other psychopathologies, such as eating disorders and substance abuse.

Diagnosis and Treatment

The diagnosis of dysthymia is primarily based on clinical evaluation. It is defined when depressive spectrum symptoms persist for a period equal to or greater than two years, even if they are less severe than those of major depression. During this period, symptom-free remissions should not last longer than two months.

The mood instability typical of dysthymia could be mistakenly attributed to personality disorders, which makes differential diagnosis crucial.

As for treatment, dysthymia can be effectively managed with low doses of antidepressant medications and cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy. This combination of treatments helps to alleviate symptoms and improve the quality of life for those living with this condition.


Dysthymia is a chronic and often debilitating mood disorder that requires careful diagnosis and treatment. While it may not be as severe as major depression, its persistent nature can significantly impact an individual's life. However, with the right treatment and support, individuals with dysthymia can lead fulfilling lives despite their condition.

Remember, this guide is only intended to provide a general understanding of dysthymia. Always consult with healthcare professionals for accurate diagnosis and treatment.

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The Wellyme Team

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