Major Depressive Disorder Vs. Dysthymia
Major Depressive Disorder
Symptoms of major depressive disorder include feelings of sadness and emptiness, difficulties getting out of bed, loss of appetite, excessive feelings of guilt, difficulties concentrating, and suicidal thoughts or plans. Major depression is diagnosed when symptoms are present for at least two weeks, have a sudden onset and are significant enough to impact daily functioning.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Symptoms of dysthymia include feelings of hopelessness; sleeping and eating too much or too little; fatigue; poor concentration; and low self-esteem. These symptoms cause distress but are not as severe as the symptoms of major depression. Dysthymia is a long-term condition and is diagnosed when these symptoms are present nearly every day during a period of two years.
The symptoms of major depressive disorder and dysthymia are very similar. Both disorders are characterized by sad mood, loss of pleasure and changes in appetite, sleep and energy. Both disorders can be treated successfully with medication and/or counseling.
Differences between major depressive disorder and dysthymia are characterized by levels of severity, duration and persistence. For example, the change in mood in major depression occurs nearly every day during a period of two weeks, whereas in dysthymia, the mood disturbance occurs more days than not during a two-year period. Dysthymia may be reported less than major depression, as its symptoms are less severe and easier to live with.
- Differences between major depressive disorder and dysthymia are characterized by levels of severity, duration and persistence.
- Dysthymia may be reported less than major depression, as its symptoms are less severe and easier to live with.
Although not an official diagnosis recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, double depression is a term used to describe the experience of having a more severe episode of major depression on top of dysthymia. Experiencing depressive symptoms that suddenly become more severe may spur a person to seek treatment.
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- Daniel N. Klein, Ph.D., Stewart A. Shankman, Ph.D., Suzanne Rose, M.A.Dysthymic Disorder and Double Depression: Prediction of 10-Year Course Trajectories and Outcomes. Journal of Research Psychiatry April 2008 42(5): 408-415.
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Brooke Nichols is a licensed professional counselor in Kansas and Missouri who has been writing since April 2009. She provides mental health services to consumers needing consultation for emotional and behavioral needs. Nichols educates families on these needs with a practice specializing in trauma and acute psychiatric care for children. She holds a master's degree in psychology from Antioch University Seattle.