Chronic depression is a medical condition with physical and emotional symptoms of depression that last longer than two years. Chronic depression symptoms may be mild to severe, and can change over time. Each type of chronic depression may significantly impact a sufferer’s quality of life and ability to function. Learn about common chronic depression symptoms.

Symptoms: Chronic Depression

Chronic depression symptoms mirror those of other types of depression. With various kinds of symptoms, chronic depression may affect many aspects of an individual’s health and daily routine.

Cognitive and emotional chronic depression symptoms include:

  • Decreased work productivity
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty initiating activities
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Loss of interest in once-enjoyed activities
  • Low or depressed mood
  • Self-destructive or suicidal thoughts.

As for physical symptoms, chronic depression may cause:

  • Aches and pains
  • Changes in appetite
  • Changes in sleep habits
  • Extreme fatigue or lethargy.

In terms of duration of symptoms, chronic depression differs from other types of depression. Many subtypes of depression are episodic, meaning they appear for shorter periods of time, usually less than a year. Chronic depression symptoms, on the other hand, usually last for two years or more.

Types of Chronic Depression

People can experience three types of chronic depression, each with varying symptom severity. These include:

  • Chronic major depression
  • Dysthymia
  • Dysthymia with superimposed major depressive episodes (double depression).

Chronic Major Depression<

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), episodic major depression symptoms last two weeks or more. If you experience these symptoms for two years or more, you may be diagnosed with chronic major depression. Although you may experience partial remission with less severe symptoms, they will most likely remain in a milder form.

Chronic Depression: Dysthymia

Dysthymia, or dysthymic disorder, is a milder form of chronic depression. Symptoms are similar to those of major episodic depression, but milder symptoms that may vary over time. The primary symptom is low or depressed mood, which may be accompanied by a negative or self-critical personality. Dysthymia symptoms often appear in younger individuals, even during childhood.

Dysthymia with Superimposed Major Depressive Episodes

Some dysthymic individuals also experience periods of episodic major depression symptoms. This condition, which the DSM-IV calls dysthymia with superimposed major depressive episodes, is also known as double depression. Individuals with double depression do not experience complete remission, like individuals with episodic major depression do. Instead, symptoms return to the dysthymic level.

While presentation may be similar to chronic major depression with partial remissions, it differs because double depression is characterized by a prior history of dysthymia.

Resources

Ballas, C. (2007). What is the difference between dysthymia and major depression? Retrieved June 4, 2010, from the Health Central website: www.healthcentral.com/depression/c/49/8873/dysthymia-major.

Harvard Health Publications Staff. (2009). Managing chronic depression. Retrieved June 4, 2010, from the Harvard Health Publications website: www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/Harvard_Mental_Health_Letter/2009/December/managing-chronic-depression.

Mayo Clinic Staff. (n.d.). Dysthymia (dysthymic disorder). Retrieved June 4, 2010, from the Mayo Clinic website: www.mayoclinic.com/health/dysthymia/DS01111.

Medline Plus Staff. (n.d.). Dysthymia. Retrieved June 4, 2010, from the Medline Plus website: www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000918.htm.

Penn State University – Milton S. Hershey Medical Center College of Medicine Staff. (n.d.). Chronic depression. Retrieved June 4, 2010, from the Penn State University – Milton S. Hershey Medical Center College of Medicine website: www.hmc.psu.edu/healthinfo/d/depression.htm.

 Posted on : June 26, 2014