Chronic depression can be so subtle that it can sometimes be difficult to tell if a person suffers from this form of depression.
Chronic Depression is also called dysthymia, which means "ill humored" and is used to describe a chronic state distinguished from major depression by the following:
- Has continued for two or more years rather than two weeks for major depression
- Remitting for less than a two month period
- Does not generally include thoughts of suicide or the need for hospitalization
People who have other mental or physical problems are often dysthymic as well.
Dysthymia is common relative to other mood disorders:
- Affecting 3 -5 percent of all people.
- In psychiatric clinics that number rises to 33 -50 percent of patients
- In adolescents: 8 percent in boys and 5 percent in girls
- More common in women 64 and younger than in men of any age
- More common among unmarried than married
- More common among those of low income
Dysthymia frequently coexists (technical term: Comoribid) with other mental disorders, especially major depressive disorder and borderline personality disorder, and can also accompany chronic physical illnesses.
The causes of dysthymia, as with other mood disorders, seem complex.
It is likely that a combination of factors, rather than a single factor, can cause dysthymia. For more details see Causes of Depression.
There are a number of treatment alternatives that may prove helpful. For more details see Self-Help for Depression.
Because of the chronic nature of dysthymia, professional help is often the best course of action.