Chronic Depression (Dysthymia)

Ongoing depression that is defined by low mood for a long period of time may be diagnosed as dysthymia or chronic depression, a moderate form of depression. Often, the disorder coexists with other mental health or medical conditions, including:

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), about 1.5 percent of the population over the age of 12 in the United States struggles with dysthymic disorder; about half of these cases are categorized as “severe.” The good news is that all of these patients, including the ones who are also struggling with drug dependence, can find effective treatment that can help them overcome both disorders when they opt for a Dual Diagnosis rehab capable of providing intensive treatment for both issues at the same time.

Disruptive Symptoms

The most significant symptom that intrudes on the lives of patients living with chronic depression is an ongoing dark or low mood that lasts most days for more than two years. In addition to this baseline symptom, patients will also deal with at least two of the following, according to Medline Plus:

  • Lack of hope for the future
  • Dysfunctional sleep patterns (too much sleep or too little)
  • Ongoing fatigue
  • Low self-confidence
  • Changes in eating habits (eating too much or too little)
  • Inability to concentrate

Treatment for Chronic Depression

Though medications may be used to treat dysthymia, they often are not as effective as they are for more severe versions of depression, and when they are effective, they take longer to work. Treatment, therefore, is most often therapeutic in nature, focusing on helping the patient to learn how to make lifestyle changes that improve their ability to cope with symptoms and working through underlying issues that may be causing their chronic low mood. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and psychotherapy are often recommended, as are lifestyle changes that include:

  • Going to bed at the same time each night and waking at the same time each morning in order to get regular sleep
  • Eating healthfully and limiting simple sugar intake
  • Taking any prescribed medications as directed
  • Doing cardiovascular and strength-bearing exercises regularly
  • Taking part in positive activities with supportive friends and family
  • Avoiding drug and alcohol use


Topics of Interest:

History of Mental Health Treatment
Race and Recovery
Addiction Treatment Alternatives: The Way to Harm Reduction


Though treatment for chronic depression may sound easy enough, it’s unfortunately often easier said than done. Those who struggle with fatigue and hopelessness simply don’t have the energy to take care of themselves and prioritize their own needs every day, all day. Instead, many turn to drugs and alcohol in order to feel better in the moment, ultimately increasing their experience of depression and creating a host of other problems for themselves in the long run.

Dual Diagnosis Rehab Is the Best Choice for Co-occurring Disorders

NIMH reports that only about 61 to 67 percent of patients diagnosed with dysthymia are getting the treatment they need to manage the disorder and only 40 to 43 percent are receiving even minimally adequate treatment. Additionally, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that about 37 percent of patients living with an alcohol use disorder and about 53 percent addicted to drugs were also diagnosed with a mental health disorder.

If your loved one is living with depression and abusing drugs and alcohol, a Dual Diagnosis rehab is the key to a successful recovery. Learn more when you contact us at the phone number listed above today.

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