What is “double depression”?

"Double depression" means a patient has depression more days than not for more than two years.

"Double depression" is when you have mild, chronic depression (dysthymia) along with episodes of major depression. Major depression can cause more severe symptoms, such as weight gain and sleep problems.

Dr. Deborah Serani, PsyD
Psychology Specialist

Double depression is the clinical term used to describe individuals who endure both a major depressive disorder *and* dysthymic disorder.

Double depression is an expression used to define a condition in people who experience long-term mild-to-moderate depression (dysthymia) and eventually progress to having episodes of major depression superimposed on the dysthymia. Almost always experiencing depressed mood, these individuals cycle between the mild-to-moderate lows of dysthymia and the deep lows of major depression.

To be diagnosed as having double depression, a person must have experienced at least two years of mild-to-moderate depression—thus qualifying for the dysthymia diagnosis—prior to the onset of major depression episodes.

Dr. Ramani Durvasula, PhD
Psychology Specialist

Double depression describes the overlay of an episode of major depression on top of low grade chronic depressive symptoms that are called dysthymia. Typically the person has experienced the symptoms of dysthymia for at least 2 years, and then a period of time with more intense symptoms of depression, that are more debilitating—causing more problems with work, social functioning, and general functioning, and a magnification of the usual low grade symptoms. It is absolutely critical that a person experiencing double depression get treatment, if they are already receiving medications and therapy, an uptick in treatment may be needed, and if no treatment has been received it is essential that it be started at such a time.

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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.