Dysthymic Disorder Treatments

(Also Known As: Disthymic Disorder Treatments, Dysthymia Treatments, Depression Treatments, Neurotic Depression Treatments, Mood Disorder Treatments, Chronic Depression Treatments, Depression - Chronic Treatments, Persistent Depressive Disorder Treatments)

(Reviewed by: Paul Peterson, Licensed Therapist)

What Kinds of Dysthymic Disorder Treatments are Available?

Although Dysthymic Disorder is a serious illness, it can also be treatable and doctors may use different kinds of treatment strategies to treat Dysthymic Disorder (often known as Dysthymia.)

Psychotherapy (or Talk Therapy)

Psychoanalysis, otherwise known as insight orientated therapy, is used to treat Dysthymic Disorder and other mood disorders to help the person develop appropriate coping skills to deal with everyday life. Psychotherapy can also help increase the likelihood that the patient will take their prescribed medication and follow healthy lifestyle habits. It can also help the patient and family understand the mood disorder. One may benefit from one-on-one therapy, family therapy, group therapy, or a support group with others who suffer with chronic depression and Dysthymic Disorder.

Cognitive Therapy

Patients are taught new ways of thinking and behaving to replace faulty negative attitudes about themselves, about the world and the future with this Dysthymic Disorder treatment. It is a short-term therapy program oriented toward current problems and their resolutions.

Behavior Therapy

Behavior therapy as a treatment for Dysthymic Disorder is a type of psychotherapy that focuses on changing undesirable behaviors. Behavior therapy involves identifying objectionable, maladaptive behaviors and replacing them with healthier types of behavior. This type of therapy is also referred to as behavior modification therapy.

Interpersonal Therapy

Interpersonal therapy (IPT) is a type of treatment for patients with depression and Dysthymic Disorder which focuses on past and present social roles and interpersonal interactions. During treatment, the therapist generally chooses one or two problem areas in the patient's current life to focus on. Examples of areas covered are disputes with friends, family, or co-workers, grief and loss, and role transitions, such as retirement or divorce. There are two subtypes of IPT:

  • Short-term treatment of a depressive episode - The patient and therapist typically meet weekly for two to four months and treatment ends once the symptoms subside.
  • Maintenance treatment (IPT-M) - Long-term treatment with the goal of preventing or reducing the number of future episodes of depression. IPT-M may consist of monthly sessions over a period of two to three years.

IPT does not attempt to delve into inner conflicts resulting from past experiences. Rather it attempts to help the patient find better ways to deal with current problems.

IPT identifies four basic problem areas which contribute to depression and Dysthymic Disorder. The therapist helps the patient determine which area is the most responsible for his depression, and therapy is then directed at helping the patient deal with this problem area. The four basic problem areas of depression and Dysthymia recognized by interpersonal therapy are:

  • Unresolved grief - In normal bereavement, the person usually begins to return to normal functioning within a few months. Unresolved grief is generally grief which is either delayed or experienced long after the loss or distorted grief, in which the person may not feel emotions, but instead experiences other symptoms.
  • Role disputes - Role disputes occur when the patient and significant people in his life have different expectations about their relationship.
  • Role transitions - Depression may occur during life transitions when a person's role changes and he doesn't know how to cope with the change.
  • Interpersonal deficits - This may be an area of focus if the patient has had problems with forming and maintaining good quality relationships.

Family and Group Therapies

Family therapy may help both the patient and the patient’s family deal with the symptoms of Dysthymic Disorder, especially when a biologically based sub-affective syndrome seems to be present. Group therapy may help withdrawn patients learn new ways to overcome their interpersonal problems in social situations.


Most of the clinicians prefer to use a combination of treatments to treat patients with Dysthymic Disorder. Most patients are likely to experience significant relief in 12 to 14 weeks. Such a combination starts with psychotherapy and anti-depressant drugs like Prozac, Zoloft and Paxil. If Dysthymic Disorder is left untreated it may develop into major depression.

Other treatment available

Your doctor can explain other treatments for Dysthymic Disorder and major depression. Here are some examples:

  • Some people with seasonal depression find good relief with light therapy.
  • Electroconvulsant therapy (ECT) is another treatment that may be used if major depression isn't responding to antidepressant medications.
  • An individual experiencing manic (highly elated) episodes along with the chronic depression, may be prescribed a mood-stabilizing drug, such as lithium, or an anticonvulsant.

Could You Have Dysthymic Disorder?

Dysthymic Disorder Topics

Related Conditions

Anorexia Nervosa – Eating Disorder, Depression, Changes in Body Weight, Excessive Exercise
Anxiety Disorder NOS – Pathological Fears and Anxiety, Chronic Stress, Fatigue, Exhaustion, Phobia, Anxiousness, Depression
Bipolar Disorder – Manic Depression, Mood Changes, Hypomania, Delusion, Hallucinations, Psychosis