What is chronic depression?


Starting at the most mild end of the spectrum, chronic depression, or dysthymia, generally emerges as a low mood that depresses an individual’s frame of mind over a consistent and extended period of time. The dysthymic individual can usually carry out home and work duties sufficiently, but not optimally. More severe, clinical depression often does interrupt one’s job, family and lifestyle when an individual no longer finds pleasure in activities and people he or she once enjoyed.

You may have dysthymia or clinical depression if:

  • You have periods of sadness, irritability or crying spells most of the time for a period of two weeks or longer.
  • Activities and social opportunities you once enjoyed no longer give you much pleasure.
  • You feel either perpetually restless or as if you're moving in slow motion.
  • You don't have the energy you once did. You often tell people that you're "exhausted."
  • You are plagued by intense feelings of low self-esteem.
  • You feel incredibly guilty about events or comments you are not wholly responsible for.
  • You struggle to concentrate and make decisions.
  • You fantasize about suicide. You think about death often.
Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Practitioner

To be classified as chronic depression (dysthymia), depression symptoms such as low, dark or sad mood must last at least two years. If untreated, symptoms of dysthymia can continue for years.

Dr. Tarique D. Perera, MD
Psychiatrist (Therapist)

Chronic depression is defined as being depressed for years and may occur when a patient doesn't fully recover from a bout of depression. In this video, Tarique Perera, MD, a psychiatrist with Contemporary Care of Connecticut, describes the condition.

Continue Learning about Chronic Depression (Dysthymia)

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.