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Persistent Depressive Disorder (Dysthymia)

Persistent depressive disorder, also known as dysthymia, is a continuous long-term form of depression. Chronic depression such as this may cause a person to feel hopeless, lack productivity, lose interest in normal daily activities, and have an overall feeling of inadequacy. These feelings may significantly impact your relationships, work, school, and daily activities as they can last for years. 


Symptoms of persistent depressive disorder can change in intensity and come and go over the years, but usually do not disappear for more than two months at a time. Symptoms may include:

  • Lack of energy
  • Irritability or excessive anger
  • Sleep problems
  • Poor appetite or overeating
  • Low self-esteem
  • Loss of interest in daily activities
  • Avoiding social activities
  • Sadness, emptiness


While the exact cause of persistent depressive disorder is unknown, it may involve more than one cause, such as:

  • Biological differences: There may be physical changes in the brain of a person with persistent depressive disorder.
  • Brain chemistry: Changes in the function and effect of neurotransmitters and how they interact with neurocircuits involved in maintaining mood stability may play a significant role in depression and its treatment.
  • Inherited traits: Persistent depressive disorder tends to be more common in those whose blood relatives have the condition.
  • Life events: Traumatic events can trigger persistent depressive disorder in some people.


Although there is no guaranteed way to prevent persistent depressive disorder, there are some strategies that may help ward off the symptoms. Take steps to control stress and boost your self-esteem. Reach out to family and friends when you are in times of crisis to help you get through. Get treatment at the earliest sign of a problem, and consider getting long-term maintenance treatment to help prevent a relapse of symptoms.

When to See a Doctor

If you have any symptoms of persistent depressive disorder, talk to your primary care doctor or a mental health professional. If you are having thoughts of injuring yourself or attempting suicide, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately. 

Greenville Health Care

Greenville Health Care is a Family Practice and walk-in Medical Clinic dedicated to serving the citizens of Greenville and surrounding counties with excellent, timely, and compassionate patient care. Contact us today!