Dysthymia or dysthymic disorder is a form of the mood disorder of depression characterised by a lack of enjoyment/pleasure in life that continues for at least two years. It differs from clinical depression in the severity of the symptoms. While dysthymia usually does not prevent a person from functioning, it prevents full enjoyment of life. Dysthymia also lasts much longer than an episode of major depression. Outsiders often perceive dysthymic individuals as 'dour' and humourless. more...
Often a stressful or overwhelming situation, like having a first baby (see postpartum depression), will throw a dysthymic individual into a major depression. When a major depressive episode occurs on top of dysthymia, clinicians may refer to the resultant condition as double depression.
Approximately 6% of the population of the United States has dysthymia.
Classical use of the term
The term dysthymia originally referred to a sub-clinical psychotic condition. The Greek roots of the term dysthymia suggest the interpretation: "abnormal, or disordered feelings".
Classical dysthymia refers to "feeling" something as a reality which is not a reality, for example "feeling" that one knows what others think - or "understanding" an underlying social dynamic which is not real. This thinking pattern would lead sufferers to see themselves as "prophets" or as "highly intuitive healers". Such people may imagine that they can "feel" underlying hostilities which do not exist.
These people often endure social estrangement because they continually inject disordered judgments, which result from their abnormal "feelings". These disordered feelings and the way that dysthymics may express them within social settings are usually considered intensely strange.
This definition of dysthymia used to cover a broad band of disorders, which may very likely result in anti-social behaviors.
Some people with dysthymia respond to treatment with antidepressant medications. For mild or moderate depression, the American Psychiatric Association in its 2000 Treatment Guidelines for Patients with Major Depressive Disorder advises that psychotherapy alone or in combination with an antidepressant may be appropriate. A 2002 study involving 375 patients found a St John's wort extract effective for treating mild to moderate depression.
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