Dysthymic Disorder is a low-grade and yet chronic depression characterised by feelings of sadness or depression associated with lack of interest to do things and including some physical symptoms such as lack of energy, sleep, and concentration.
This is a type of clinical depression that is supposed to be “milder” than Major Depressive Disorder because the symptoms don’t necessarily happen everyday. Unlike patients who suffer from MDD, Dysthymic patients are not bed-bound, still able to work, and do not appear to be sick. But most of these individuals complain that they haven’t felt “normal” or “happy” for a long time.
Moreover, Dysthymic Disorder shows itself by lack of drive and motivation. Hence, relatives and friends tend to misinterpret the person’s mood. Some patients endure the stigma of being considered “lazy” or not “motivated enough” to do worthwhile goals.
As time passes by, patients with this disorder have difficulty functioning. But because they still appear normal, the illness is not recognised and patients don’t get treated early. A lot of times, they are not referred to a psychiatrist.
Patients experience considerable emotional turmoil. In fact, some dysthymic patients eventually develop a more serious depression called Major Depressive Disorder. When “double depression” (dysthymic disorder and major depression occurring together) happens, patients are so depressed that they become a threat to themselves and become functionally impaired. At this time, psychiatric hospitalisation becomes necessary.
So Dysthymic Disorder is a serious health problem that should be recognised and treated promptly. It is an illness that somehow hides its existence from everyone including clinicians and patients themselves.
Dysthymic disorder can be treated by antidepressants and psychotherapy. Most patients respond to treatment although some still suffer despite adequate treatment. Also, there are some individuals who only respond minimally. As such, this illness can be more challenging to treat than others.