Dysthymia affects people of all ages, including children and teens. While occasional sadness or a sense of feeling down is normal for anyone every now and then, emotions of this nature that last more than a few days could be signs of dysthymia.
What is Dysthymia?
Dysthymia is also known as chronic depression. It is typically less severe than major depression and has fewer symptoms. Dysthymia is sometimes referred to as “persistent depressive disorder” because it can linger over several years.
Also known as dysthymic disorder or neurotic depression, dysthymia can be identified by the same symptoms as major depression, but the symptoms are usually less intense. The list of symptoms includes sadness or a depressed mood most of the time, major changes in weight, fatigue or loss of energy, feelings of hopelessness, trouble concentrating, suicidal thoughts, and either insomnia or excessive sleep.
There are many causes of dysthymia in adolescents. Family dysfunction and the pressure to achieve academic and athletic success can create the conditions for dysthymia. Fortunately, the success rate for treatment of dysthymia is high. Early diagnosis and proper treatment can reduce the symptoms, while also reducing the likelihood that dysthymia will develop into a major depressive episode. Seeking treatment is important because it’s not unusual for people with dysthymia to experience what’s known as “double depression”—dysthymia paired with an episode of major depression. Most importantly, treatment options must address the root causes of depression.