Dysthymic Disorder (or 'dysthymia') is often characterised by chronic (long term, ongoing) depression, but without the severity of major depression.
The symptoms of Dysthymia are the same as for depression, however usually not as severe as major depression, AND an almost daily depressed mood for at least two years. Other symptoms often include lowered energy, sleep and appetite disturbances and low self-esteem.
Sufferers of Dysthymic Disorder will often claim that they can't ever remember NOT feeling depressed!
Dysthymia does not tend to debilitate the sufferer to the point where they cannot perform everyday routines, although the disorder is severe enough to cause distress and interference with important life relationships, roles and responsibilities.
Dythysmic Disorder causes changes in thinking, feelings, behaviour and physical well-being.
Changes in Thinking Sufferers are likely to experience concentration and decision making difficulties, as well as problems with short term memory and forgetting things all the time. Negative thoughts, pessimism, lowered self-esteem, guilt and self-criticism are all characteristic of Dysthymic Disorder.
Changes in Feelings Feeling sad for no reason and no longer enjoying activities that you used to, lack of motivation, apathy, lethargy and irritability are all of the feelings that you may be experiencing if you suffer from Dysthymic Disorder. Dysthymic Disorder can also lead to feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.
Changes in Behaviour Sufferers may experience social withdrawal, changes to eating habits (either eating more or less), excessive crying, a pessimistic attitude to everything, anger and temper outbursts, loss of libido, neglecting personal appearance or hygiene.
Changes in Physical Well-being Chronic fatigue, loss of appetite, slowing down and aches and pains are all extremely common physical aspects of Dysthymic Disorder. Although all of these physical symptoms would have a debilitating affect on the sufferers life, fatigue appears to be the major cause of these problems. The sufferer may go to bed earlier, or stay in bed longer, but the amount of sleeping that the person is getting does not add up to the amount that they need.
There are many different treatments available for sufferers of Dysthymic Disorder, and a combination of psychotherapy and antidepressants seem to be the way to go at the moment. As always, it is best to discuss your treatment with your doctor or other health care professional. There are also some lifestyle changes that may help. .