Persistent depression is a type of depression that lasts for two years or more. It’s also called dysthymia or chronic depression. Persistent depression often does not feel as intense as major depression, but it can cause significant issues while making tasks difficult.

What are some symptoms of persistent depression ?

  • appetite changes
  • changes to sleep patterns or low energy
  • concentration and memory problems
  • deep sadness or hopelessness
  • difficulty functioning at school or work
  • lack of interest in things you once enjoyed
  • low self-esteem or feelings of inadequacy
  • inability to feel joy, even at happy occasions
  • social withdrawal

Though it’s a long-term type of depression, the severity of symptoms can become less intense for months at a time before worsening again. Some people also have episodes of major depression before or while they have persistent depressive disorder, this is called double depression. Persistent depression lasts for years at a time, so people with this type of depression may start to feel like their symptoms are just part of their normal outlook on life.

What causes dysthymia?

Like other forms of depression the exact cause is not know, however several factors are believed to play a role. A person’s brain chemistry is one factor. The balance of neurotransmitters is thought to play a role in the onset of depression. Also environmental factors, including prolonged stress, can actually change brain chemicals. Other stressors: loss, grief, major life changes, and trauma can also cause depression. Antidepressants work by altering these neurotransmitters in order to improve mood.

The role of genetics in all types of depression is a significant one. Research suggests that having a closely related family member with a history of depression can double the risk of developing depression.


A combination of “Talk Therapy” such as dialectical behavior therapy and medication appears to be the most effective combination