ZocdocAnswersIs there a simple way to tell if I have dysthemia?

Question

Is there a simple way to tell if I have dysthemia?

I recently saw an article in the Wall Street Journal about dysthemia and I am not sure if I may have it or not. I am 19 and won't be going to my doctor this summer so is there another way to find out if I have dysthemia? What would happen if I have it and don't treat it?

Answer

Dysthymia is a common and under-recognized condition. Simply put, dysthymia is similar to major depression, but "less severe." Because it is less severe, many people with dysthymia will go undiagnosed for years. Most people with dysthymia experience the symptoms of depression, such as loss of appetite, lack of interest, sadness, poor self esteem, and sleep problems. Because the degree to which they experience these is less than in people with overt major depression, they are less likely to seek professional help. However, because dysthymia differs from major depression only in degree rather than in quality, it responds very well to the same medications as does depression. These means that you should definitely talk to your doctor about your suspicion that you might be suffering from the condition, because good treatments exist! There are formal diagnostic criteria for dysthymia that your doctor can use to determine whether or not you have the condition. One of the major criteria is that, in people with dysthymia, the symptoms should be present for at least two years. Also, your doctor will have to rule out cyclothymia which is another chronic mood disorder, but with more cycling up and down of your mood symptoms. If you are diagnosed, your doctor will help you decide which treatments would be most effective.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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