4 Things To Know About Mild But Persistant Depression (Dysthymia)
Persistent depressive disorder—also called dysthymia—is wide reaching and can be severe; here’s more:
#1 Low-level depression
Dysthymic disorder, often referred to simply as dysthymia, is essentially chronic, low-level depression that has lasted two or more years in adults (at least one year in youth, for whom it presents more as irritability or anger).
#2 Formal definition
The formal definition in the DSM-V (the current edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the mental health profession’s standard reference) represents a consolidation of DSM-IV defined chronic major depressive disorder and dysthymic disorder and includes having at least two depressive symptoms—such as sleep, appetite, or self-esteem issues—for most of the day for most days. Acute or major depression typically would involve a greater number of symptoms.
#3 Significant distress
Though dysthymia is relatively mild compared to acute or severe major depression, the symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. Experts agree that “the consequences of dysthymia are increasingly recognized as grave,” and include increased morbidity from physical disease and increased risk of suicide.
According to the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health, at any given time about 1.5 percent of the adult population will be experiencing dysthymic disorder, and about one out of 40 adults will experience dysthymia some time during their lifetime.