What is the role of psychotherapy in the treatment of persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia)?

Updated: Oct 01, 2019
  • Author: Jerry L Halverson, MD; Chief Editor: David Bienenfeld, MD  more...
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Several types of therapy, including psychodynamic, cognitive behavioral, and interpersonal therapy, have been demonstrated in controlled studies to be effective in the treatment of depression and dysthymia.

Short- and long-term psychodynamic psychotherapy are effective for depressive disorders; in particular, they help in developing an individual’s understanding of their relationships and decrease maladaptive interpersonal interactions. [26, 27]

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a structured, time-limited treatment that involves recognizing and restructuring cognitive processes leading to depression and noting the relationship between depressive cognitions, mood state, and the individual’s behavior. Cognitive strategies, such as reformulating distorted thinking, and behavioral strategies, such as daily activity scheduling, are effective for depressive symptoms.

Interpersonal therapy (IPT) is also a structured, time-limited treatment. This therapy focuses on current problems and the interpersonal context in which they occur. Success in solving interpersonal conflicts in IPT is associated with improved symptoms of dysthymia. [28, 29]

Although research in this area is limited, group therapy, including CBT and IPT groups, may be helpful for people with dysthymia. [30, 31]

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