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Dysthyme disorder


Dysthymic disorder is a mild but long-term form of depression characterized by a gloomy mood for extended periods and multiple symptoms of depression. Thoughts such as ‘This is just how I am’ may arise, but nothing could be further from the truth. Learn to recognize chronic depression, understand how it develops, and discover what you can do about it.

What is dysthymic disorder?

Dysthymic disorder is a chronic form of depression. You experience mild depressive symptoms for at least two years. You feel mildly gloomy on most days. Previous names are dysthymia, (mild) chronic depression or neurotic depression.


How is it different from depression?

  • Your depressive symptoms are mild on most days
  • Your symptoms are present for at least two years.
  • Your mood may improve for a few weeks, but it does not last more than two months.
In “regular” depression, the symptoms often last shorter than two years and are predominantly more severe.


Diagnosis follows later in life

Often dysthymic disorder is diagnosed later in life only once other mental health problems arise such as anxiety disorder, loneliness or burnout. Often dysthymic disorder develops in childhood and you do not yet realize that it is a mental disorder. You have more or less gotten used to feeling this way.


Physical and psychological symptoms

Depression that is chronic has the following physical and psychological symptoms:


You can also get ‘regular’ (heavier) depression during the periods of mild gloom. Then you have “double depression.
You may feel very gloomy for more than two years. This is called chronic major depression. Specialty care facilities treat this type of depression. In the DSM-5, the psychiatric textbook, chronic depression comes under the heading “persistent depressive disorder.


What causes a depression to become chronic?

The causes of chronic depression are biological, psychological and/or related to upbringing and unpleasant experiences. These chronic depression causes are often interrelated. How one affects the other, scientists are still investigating.

  • Biological

Does someone in your family have dysthymic disorder? Then it’s more likely that you’ll get it too. Because chronic depression is partly hereditary. A number of physical disorders also increase the risk. Think brain damage, cancer or kidney disease.

  • Psychological

Do you have another mental disorder, such as an anxiety disorder or personality disorder (e.g., borderline)? Then you are also at greater risk. The same is true if you have a negative self-image.

  • Nurture and environment

Unpleasant experiences also play a role. Think of a parent who dies or being bullied. In addition, parenting plays a role, for example, if you missed certain basic emotional needs as a child, such as safety or stability.


How does dysthymic disorder affect daily life?

Dysthymic depression affects relationships, school, work and daily activities. Even though the symptoms are mild, the long duration often makes it tough. Some consequences of dysthymic disorder include:


  • Fatigue and as a result you experience difficulty concentrating.
  • Being inactive and less productive.
  • Being afraid that you will never get rid of it.
  • Feeling hopeless for feeling this way.
  • You become insecure and your self-image may become more negative as a result. For example, you feel that you fail and are ashamed of this. Misunderstanding from your surroundings does not help.


Can you work with chronic depression?

Some people can work with chronic depression and for others disability follows. The UWV assesses the degree of disability. Read more about how the UWV deals with chronic depression and disability.


Help with dysthymic disorder

Do you have questions about treating dysthymic disorder? Or do you have doubts about when to consult a psychologist?

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    Have you tried many things yourself and still experiencing symptoms? Feel free to call us at 085-1308900 or contact us online. This way you can feel if there is a click and if you feel comfortable.

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    At iPractice, you will work with 2 psychologists. Treatment consists of both online contact and regular consultation room sessions at one of iPractice’s locations. Or find out more information about the intake and treatment process at iPractice.

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    CBT is the most common therapy for symptoms in dysthymic disorder. We also work with you to find ways to cope with your depression so that your symptoms get in your way as little as possible. In doing so, we follow the GGZ standards for depressive disorders.

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    With a referral letter from the general practitioner and an official diagnosis according to DSM-5 guidelines, almost every insurer will reimburse the cost. See which health insurance companies reimburse our care.

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    Read Luc’s personal story about his depression and how treatment at iPractice helped him in recovery. Or read more experience stories about depression.

publish-icon Published - 4 Jun 2024
Mariëlle has extensive experience in treating depression and helping you reduce depressive symptoms. Together with you, she will find ways to cope with chronic depression.
marielle van der meer ipractice psycholoog
GZ-Psychologist Mariëlle van der Meer

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