|Dysthymic disorder is a chronic, low-grade depression. When the disorder begins in adulthood, it may be triggered by a major life transition such as the birth of a first child, bereavement, or job loss. Dysthymia can be related to personal stressors such as personality conflicts or relationship difficulties in some situations.|
Individuals with dysthymia have persistent symptoms including a low mood, fatigue, hopelessness, difficulty concentrating, and problems with sleep and appetite. These symptoms persist most of the day and last over a period of 2 or more years. Individuals may have symptom-free periods but these seldom last longer than 2 consecutive months. The symptoms are generally milder but longer lasting than those of a major depressive episode.
Diagnosis is based on criteria listed in the DSM-IV-TR (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition, Text Revision). If the symptoms are associated with another psychiatric impairment such as major depression, schizophrenia, manic episodes, or organic psychosis, a diagnosis of dysthymia does not apply. For example, if chronic depressive symptoms include a major depressive episode during the first 2 years, then the diagnosis is major depression rather than dysthymic disorder. However, after the first 2 years of chronic depression, major depressive episodes may be superimposed on the dysthmic disorder, such that both diagnoses apply (double depression).
Risk: Women are 2 to 3 times more likely to develop dysthymia than men. Individuals originally diagnosed with dysthymic disorder before the age of 21 are more likely to experience major depressive episodes later and the disorder is more common in individuals with close biological relatives diagnosed with Major Depression (DSM-IV-TR 378-79).
Incidence and Prevalence: In the course of their lifetime, about 5% to 6% of adults have dysthymic disorder. Point prevalence of the disorder is about 3% (DSM-IV-TR 379).
Source: Medical Disability Advisor