Dysthymic disorder is a chronic mood disorder listed in the spectrum of depressive disorders. Characterized by periods of normal mood interrupted by episodes of depression, dysthymic disorder (also referred to as persistent depressive disorder, or PDD) is clinically diagnosed when someone suffers symptoms for two years or more (or one year for teens and children). Since dysthymic disorder may go undiagnosed for many years due to its mild, cyclic nature, many people with dysthymia simply think feeling depressed is part of their personality.
A clinical diagnosis of dysthymia requires a person suffer from two or more of these symptoms for at least two years:
Diagnosing dysthymia is often difficult because symptoms resemble physical illnesses such as fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome. In addition, dysthymia can accompany other psychological or personality disorders that overshadow the symptoms.
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