What is persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia)?

Updated: Oct 01, 2019
  • Author: Jerry L Halverson, MD; Chief Editor: David Bienenfeld, MD  more...
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Answer

In the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia) represents a consolidation of DSM-IV-defined chronic major depressive disorder and dysthymic disorder. [1] Persistent depressive disorder is a depressive mood disorder characterized by a chronic course and an early and inisidious onset (i.e., in childhood, adolescence, or early adulthood). Early onset (i.e., before age 21) is associated with higher risk for comorbid personality disorders and substance use disorders.

Although dysthymia was traditionally considered less severe than major depression, the consequences of dysthymia are increasingly recognized as grave; they include severe functional impairment, increased morbidity from physical disease, and increased risk of suicide. (See Prognosis.)


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