Mental Health

Dysthymia: Everything You Need To Know

dysthymia Posted On
Posted By Alex Perez - Mental Health Writer, B.A.

What is Dysthymia?

what is dysthymia

Dysthymia is a major depressive disorder where you feel a general state of depression for two years or more. The difference between Major Depression and Dysthymia is that Major Depression often happens in waves when Dysthymia is a persistent feeling. It often affects every factor of your life, from your personal relationships, to work, to your daily routine.

What causes Dysthymia?

what causes dysthymia

There are many factors that are in play when talking about the cases of Dysthymia. It may be the intersection of those factors and the ability to cope.

Dysthymia can be caused by:

  • Childhood Trauma and Abuse
  • Physiological disorders that affect mood
  • Genetics
  • A life-changing event such as an accident or death of a loved one

Symptoms of Dysthymia are often:

  • change in appetite (either eating too much or too little)
  • Low self-esteem
  • Loss of hope
  • Feeling alienated and isolated
  • Fatigue
  • Low energy
  • Pessimistic worldview
  • Low motivation or productivity

Dysthymia often goes undiagnosed as medical professionals may not ask the right questions or see you often enough to make an accurate diagnosis.

What can I do if I have Dysthymia?

treatment dysthymia

There are several self-care factors that come into play when treating Dysthymia naturally. Below are the things you should consider:

Professional help

Although there is no cure for Dysthymia, you can still live a wholesome life by managing symptoms and seeking professional help. However, in seeking a psychotherapist or counselor, remember that the number one most prominent factor in a successful treatment is the relationship between you and your therapist.

If you somehow feel that you don’t feel connected or comfortable with your therapist by the first 3-4 sessions, it may be time to look for a different counselor. This is essential for your treatment.


Studies have shown that practicing gratitude has the same effect on our brains as antidepressants. Gratitude also has a measurable impact on feeling joy and managing moments in which we feel vulnerable.

One valued practice of gratitude is writing gratitude letters. You do not have to send the letters to those you have addressed, but the practice requires you to think of one person and write a letter of sincere appreciation to them. You may write a letter of gratitude once a week to notice a considerable improvement in your mood.

Although a small habit, practicing gratitude is a strong tool in managing symptoms of dysthymia.


Another way to manage dysthymia is to incorporate exercise or movement into your routine. Choose something you enjoy doing. For example, if you enjoy walking, schedule a 30-minute walk every day. If you enjoy skating, kayaking, or any outdoor activity, be sure to make time in your schedule to a monthly or weekly routine. Choosing a movement you enjoy will ensure the likelihood of you keeping that habit rather than forcing upon yourself a type of exercise you do not like. As you keep the habit of movement, you may want to add other types of activities you enjoy.

Symptoms of Dysthymia
Infographic Symptoms of Dysthymia Persistent Depressive Disorder, Dysthymia

Harvard Health: Dysthymia

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