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Dysthymic Disorder

What is Dysthymic Disorder?

Dysthymic Disorder (DD), in contrast to Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), tends to last for a significantly longer period of time. In order for children or adolescents to be diagnosed with DD they must experience a period of at least one year in which feelings of sadness or irritability are present on more days than not. In addition, these youths will experience two or more symptoms of depression on more days than not during this period. The average dysthymic period lasts about 4 years. A large number of children with DD also experience a major depressive episode during the course of a dysthymic period. When both MDD and DD occur at the same time, this condition may be called "double depression."

For specific treatment options, please refer to this table

Example of Dysthymia
Semmy is a 13 year-old high school freshman. He can remember feeling sad almost every day since the beginning of middle school. His peers describe him as extremely irritable most of the time and generally a "downer" to be around. As a result, Semmy interacts with others very little. When questioned as to why he chooses to spend so much time alone, Semmy replies, "why would anyone want to be my friend?" Although his parents have been worried about him for some time, they have put off seeking professional help due to the persistence of these behaviors and feelings. They have come to believe that "this is just the way Semmy is."

 

 
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