In detail

Dysthymia, how is it different from depression?

Dysthymia, how is it different from depression?

Dysthymia is a chronically depressed mood, less severe than depression and that does not meet the criteria for major depression, or does so only in very short periods. Its evolution is usually more than two years.


  • 1 Characteristics of dysthymia
  • 2 Criteria for the diagnosis of dysthymia
  • 3 Treatment of dysthymia

Dysthymia characteristics

It is characterized by a prolonged dejection of the mood in which the dysthymic subject describes himself as sad? or discouraged ?, losing interest in things and often looking useless and uninteresting. It has persistent or intermittent symptoms, of a milder intensity compared to major depression. Aiskal (1983) defines it as "bad mood" and is characterized because the individual is habitually sad, introvert, melancholic, excessively conscious, incapable of joy and worried about his personal inadequacy.

Dysthymia usually begins early in adulthood and remains for years. Sometimes it is a consequence of an isolated depressive episode and associated with conflicting events.

About 6% of the population suffers dysthymia. Women are two or three times more likely to suffer from it.

Criteria for the diagnosis of dysthymia

To diagnose dysthymia The following requirements are needed:

  1. Depressed mood communicated by the subject, or observed by others, that occurs most of the time and that lasts most of the day for at least two years.
  2. During the depressive periods, at least two of the following symptoms are present:
    • Little appetite or voracity.
    • Insomnia or hypersomnia.
    • Decreased self-esteem
    • Lack of concentration or difficulty in making decisions.
    • Feelings of hopelessness
  3. A period of two years in which there is alteration, symptoms of criterion A for two months in a row.
  4. There is no evidence of an unequivocal major depressive episode during the first two years of alteration.
  5. There has never been a manic episode or an unambiguous hypomanic episode.
  6. The disorder is not superimposed on a psychotic disorder such as schizophrenia or delusional disorder.
  7. The existence of an organic cause that has initiated or maintained the alteration cannot be demonstrated.

This depression usually more subjective than objective. Sometimes patients have irritability, impulsivity and instability.


Hypomania is considered as a attenuated form of manic state, which is defined as the opposite of depression. It is an exaltation of the mood and hyperactivation of all psychic functions.

Cyclothymic Disorder

Cyclothymia is a altered chronic mood and fluctuations comprising periods of hypomanic symptoms and periods of depressive symptoms. This disorder usually begins in adolescence or early adulthood, and appears with the same frequency in men and women.

Dysthymia treatment

This type of melancholic disorder in most cases does not require the administration of a drug treatment, because its symptoms are not as severe as those of a depression.

It will be necessary to assess the social support that the subject has, as well as the difficulties in their social, work and sexual life. The greatest emphasis will be on the needs that most affect their quality of life. The main objective of the therapist will be to make the patient aware of his illness and of the responsibility that falls on him in the stabilization of his mood.

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