Posted by: jedwardswright | November 3, 2011


Dysthymia is a chronic, low-grade depression that usually lasts two years or more. Although it is considered a less severe form of depression than Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), dysthymia has the potential to compromise a person’s ability to cope with everyday life. I tend to think of dysthymia as an inability to be happy or a lack of enjoyment in life, as much as it is a constant state of sadness.

In about half of the people who suffer from it, dysthymia will lead to a major depressive episode, so it still needs to be taken seriously. Besides, living without joy when there is treatment available doesn’t make sense. If you sense that your depression may be getting worse, it is important to seek help early; there is also a greater risk of suicidal thoughts or actions with dysthymia.

Demographically, dysthymia appears more in women than men, and it tends to run in families. It will often accompany other chronic physical or mental health conditions and may appear alongside substance abuse, as patients tend to unknowingly self-medicate. Millions of people are affected.

Someone with dysthymia may lose interest in activities that used to give pleasure, struggle with insomnia or oversleeping, and be fatigued. She may be less productive, feel hopeless or worthless and find herself complaining about aches and pains or life in general. A lack of appetite or overeating are also both common.

If you identify with these symptoms, please tell your doctor. Ask about consulting with a mental health specialist like a psychiatrist and definitely consider sitting down with a counselor, who can supply you with strategies to help you cope with the thoughts, feelings and other challenges you encounter.  Most experts advise patients to combine both medical and psychological treatment for the best result.

Since dysthymia, like other mental health conditions, is the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain, antidepressants are often prescribed as part of treatment. Once you understand that you are dealing with a physical condition, taking medication to help to right the imbalance makes sense. Not everyone with dysthymia finds relief through antidepressants but enough do that it is worth a try. Don’t become discouraged if it takes a few tries to find the right medication for you, as this is common.

Life is too short to be chronically unhappy and struggling to cope. If you suspect that you may have dysthymia, contact your primary care physician and begin the process of recovery.

Resources to Consult

PubMed Health               

Mayo Clinic


  1. I’m going to share this on my FB page . . . it’s so important. I wish I’d found you 2 years ago, Jody. You help me every.single.time I read your posts.

    • Thanks so much, Kim! I really appreciate your support! Love your blog too!

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