Dysthymic Disorder Symptoms


Dysthymic disorder is a type of depressive disorder that is also known as persistent depressive disorder. It is characterized by a low mood that persists over a length of time, often resulting in feelings of hopelessness, sadness and despondency. This disorder is generally chronic and can last for years, often negatively impacting work, relationships, and other aspects of life. In this article, we will discuss the symptoms of dysthymic disorder in more detail.

Symptoms of Dysthymic Disorder

Low Mood

One of the primary symptoms of dysthymic disorder is a persistent low mood. This feeling can be present for most of the day, nearly every day, for two years or longer. The mood can be described as feeling unhappy, sad or down, and it may be more severe at certain times of the day or in particular situations.

Loss of Interest

Individuals with dysthymic disorder may lose interest in activities that they previously enjoyed. They may avoid hobbies, social events, or other once pleasurable activities. This loss of interest may contribute to a decreased feeling of enjoyment or fulfillment in life, leading to feelings of isolation and loneliness.

Changes in Appetite

Dysthymic disorder can disrupt an individual’s eating habits. Some individuals may experience an increase in appetite and weight gain, while others may see a loss of appetite resulting in weight loss. Both can contribute to feelings of low self-esteem due to changes in body image and overall health.

Sleep Disturbances

Insomnia or hypersomnia is also common in people with dysthymic disorder. Individuals experiencing insomnia may struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep, causing daytime drowsiness, irritability and difficulty concentrating. Conversely, individuals that experience hypersomnia may desire to sleep more than usual, leading to a loss of motivation and feelings of lethargy.


Fatigue or low energy levels are a common symptom of dysthymic disorder. Individuals may feel physically and mentally drained, even after completing routine tasks. This lack of energy can impact daily life and contribute to social isolation, decreasing the motivation to participate in activities.

Negative Thinking and Low Self-Esteem

Individuals with dysthymic disorder may experience negative thinking, feelings of worthlessness, inadequacy or excessive guilt. These negative thoughts can impair a person’s judgment and can lead to additional mental health issues such as anxiety, irritability, and social anxiety.

Difficulty Concentrating

Patients with dysthymic disorder may experience difficulty focusing, remembering or making decisions. Chronic low mood and fatigue can contribute to difficulty concentrating or retaining information. This difficulty can lead to decreased productivity at work and increase feelings of frustration and low self-esteem.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Dysthymic disorder can be diagnosed by a primary care physician, psychologist or psychiatrist through a comprehensive evaluation that includes a physical exam and an assessment of symptoms. An accurate diagnosis is essential, as other medical conditions such as hypothyroidism or sleep apnea can present themselves with similar symptoms.

Effective treatment of dysthymic disorder often involves a combination of medication and psychotherapy. Antidepressants such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) may be prescribed to alleviate symptoms of low mood and anxiety. Psychotherapy, including cognitive-behavioral therapy, can help individuals to identify and challenge negative thought patterns, as well as learn coping skills and strategies to manage symptoms.


Dysthymic disorder is a condition that can have a long-lasting negative impact on an individual’s life, particularly if left untreated. However, with effective treatment and support from mental health professionals, the symptoms of dysthymic disorder can be diminished, and individuals can enjoy a higher quality of life. It is essential that individuals experiencing prolonged low mood, a loss of interest, or other symptoms discussed here, seek a diagnosis and options for treatment. There is hope, and qualified professionals can help in managing and treating dysthymic disorder.


FAQs about Dysthymic Disorder Symptoms

What are the common symptoms of dysthymic disorder?

Dysthymic disorder is a type of depression that lasts for at least two years. The common symptoms of dysthymic disorder include persistent sadness or low mood, loss of interest in activities that were previously enjoyable, low energy and fatigue, difficulty sleeping or oversleeping, changes in appetite, feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness, and difficulty concentrating or making decisions.

How is dysthymic disorder diagnosed?

Diagnosing dysthymic disorder usually involves a combination of a physical exam, a psychological evaluation, and a review of the patient’s medical history. A doctor will look for signs and symptoms of depression that have been present for at least two years, and may use screening tools such as questionnaires to help with the diagnosis. The diagnosis of dysthymic disorder can be challenging because the symptoms are often mild to moderate, and the condition can be mistaken for a personality trait rather than a mental health disorder.

What treatments are available for dysthymic disorder?

Treatment for dysthymic disorder usually involves a combination of therapies, such as psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of both. Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, can help the patient learn strategies to manage the symptoms of depression and improve their overall mental health. Antidepressant medications can also be prescribed by a doctor to help with the symptoms of dysthymic disorder. It is important to note that the treatment for dysthymic disorder is a long-term process, and may require ongoing care and management by mental health professionals.


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