What is the mortality and morbidity associated with persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia)?

Updated: Oct 01, 2019
  • Author: Jerry L Halverson, MD; Chief Editor: David Bienenfeld, MD  more...
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Patients should be closely monitored for the emergence of major depression or bipolar disorder. Review of longitudinal studies showed that 76% of dysthymic children developed major depression and that 13% developed bipolar disorder over follow-up periods of 3–12 years.

Patients with dysthymia have a higher risk of employment problems, including decreased productivity and increased unemployment. [17] A study found that at 6 months, 14% of patients with dysthymia were newly unemployed, compared with 2% new unemployment in the control group and 3% new unemployment in a group with rheumatoid arthritis. [18]

Additional concerns in dysthymia include the following:

  • Increased mortality and morbidity from unrelated physical illnesses - dysthymia is associated with poorer self-rated health status [19]

  • Suicide, attempted or completed - dysthymia significantly increases risk of suicide [20, 21]

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