Dysthymic Disorder (also known more generally as dysthymia) is characterized by an overwhelming yet chronic state of depression, exhibited by a depressed mood for most of the days, for more days than not, for at least 2 years.
In children and adolescents, the mood can be irritable and it must have lasted at least one year.
The person who suffers from this disorder must not have gone for more than 2 months without experiencing two or more of the following symptoms:
Furthermore, in order to be diagnosed with Dysthymic Disorder, no Major Depressive Episode has been present during the first two years (or one year in children and adolescents) and there has never been a Manic Episode, a Mixed Episode, or a Hypomanic Episode, and criteria have never been met for Cyclothymic Disorder. This generally means that the person needs to have had an uncomplicated, long-term, low-grade depression for two or more years in order to meet this diagnosis.
In order to meet the diagnostic criteria for Dysthymic Disorder, the symptoms may not be due to the direct physiological effects of a the use or abuse of a substance (for instance, alcohol, drugs, or medications) or a general medical condition (e.g., cancer or a stroke). The symptoms must also cause significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, educational or other important areas of functioning.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 11 Feb 2013
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