What is Dysthymic Disorder?
Dysthymic disorder, or dysthymia, is a type of depression that lasts for at least 2 years. Some people suffer from dysthymia for many years. Their depression is usually mild or moderate, rather than severe. Most people who have dysthymia can’t tell for sure when they first became depressed.
Symptoms of dysthymic disorder include a poor appetite or overeating, difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much, low energy, fatigue and feelings of hopelessness. People who have dysthymic disorder may have periods of normal mood that last up to 2 months. Family members and friends may not even know that their loved one is depressed. Even though this type of depression is mild, it may make it difficult for a person to function at home, school or work.
How common is dysthymic disorder?
Dysthymic disorder is a fairly common type of depression. It is estimated that up to 4% of people have dysthymia. Dysthymia can begin in childhood or in adulthood. No one knows why, but like most types of depression, it appears to be more common in women.
What causes dysthymic disorder?
No one knows for sure what causes dysthymia. It may be related to some changes in the brain that involve a chemical called serotonin (say: seer-uh-tone-in). Serotonin helps your brain handle emotions and make judgments. Other medical problems and ongoing life stress may also play a role.