What is dysthymia, the disorder that affects 30% of the world population

Depression is more than a simple state of mind. In fact, it is a disease that brings problems in daily life and that can significantly affect the quality of life of people. But what happens when depression is mild but constant? Then we talk about dysthymia or persistent depressive disorder, a very common problem that is not always diagnosed.

Because it is mild and chronic, dysthymia is often confused with a personality trait. People who suffer from it believe that it is pessimistic, listless, irritable. Think that it is simply your personality and that you can not change it.

However, it is a health problem that can be treated like other types of depression. When patients are diagnosed and begin treatment, they discover a world of new possibilities in life.


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Symptoms of dysthymia

The symptoms of dysthymic disorder are mild and persistent, although occasionally there may be episodes of greater severity. In these cases, episodes of major depression may occur before or during persistent depressive disorder, which is sometimes called double depression.

It is also common for symptoms to appear and disappear over the years. However, usually a person with dysthymia does not spend more than two months without symptoms.

These are the signs that you should keep in mind:

  • Missing>
  • Sadness, feeling of emptiness, depression
  • Hopelessness
  • Tiredness and lack of energy
  • Low self-esteem, self-criticism or feeling helpless or useless
  • Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
  • Irritability or excessive anger
  • Decreased activity, efficiency and productivity
  • Avoid social activities, isolation
  • Feelings of guilt and worries about the past
  • Lack of appetite or eating too much
  • Problems sleeping

Causes and risk factors

The truth is that today the exact cause of persistent depressive disorder is unknown. However, it is known that there are issues that can influence its appearance.

  • Chemistry of the brain

Brain neurotransmitters play an important role in mood, and are also related to their disorders.


Persistent depressive disorder seems to be more frequent in people whose blood relatives also have the disorder. Researchers are trying to find genes that can cause depression.

  • Events of life

As in major depression, traumatic events, such as the loss of a loved one or economic problems can cause persistent depressive disorder in some people.

Another possible cause is to be subjected to high levels of stress, which could help explain why it currently has so much incidence.

How is it treated?

If you think you might be suffering from a dysthymia, the ideal is to consult with a mental health professional. A therapy can help you diagnose the situation correctly, and give you strategies to reverse it.


It is very important that you also aim to reduce stress levels in your life. Meditating, doing yoga or practicing mindfulness can be very helpful.

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Mayo Clinic
Manuel Escudero