MDD vs Dysthymic Disorder: Difference and Comparison

Depending on how long you are experiencing these feelings, you may have MDD or dysthymic disorder. MDD, or Major depressive disorder and dysthymic disorder, carry a vital social and human burden.

Key Takeaways

  1. Severe depressive episodes characterize MDD (Major Depressive Disorder), while dysthymic disorder (also called persistent depressive disorder) involves chronic, low-grade depression.
  2. MDD has a more acute onset and intense symptoms, while dysthymic disorder is long-lasting with milder symptoms.
  3. Both disorders require professional treatment, but MDD may necessitate more aggressive interventions like medication or therapy, while dysthymic disorder may be managed with lifestyle changes and counselling.

MDD vs Dysthymic Disorder

MDD (Major Depressive Disorder) is a mental health condition characterized by a persistent and pervasive feeling of sadness, hopelessness, and loss of interest in daily activities. Dysthymic Disorder or Persistent Depressive Disorder is a chronic form of depression that lasts for at least two years.

MDD vs Dysthymic Disorder

It is also known as clinical depression and can impact behaviour, mood, and several physical functions, like sleep and appetite. In MDD, a person feels extreme sadness for a long period.

The dysthymic disorder lasts for more than two years, and its intensity changes over time. Dysthymic disorder is not as severe as MDD or Major depressive disorder.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonMDDDysthymic Disorder
Definition MDD or major depressive disorder refers to a mental illness that negatively affects the way an individual feels, acts and thinks and leads to physical and emotional problems.     Dysthymic disorder refers to a milder form of depression, less severe than major depressive disorder, and can affect family life, physical health, social life, relationships, and daily activities.
Symptoms The major symptoms of MDD are having less pleasure or interest in most of the activities, depressed mood, fatigue, feeling guilty or worthless, unintentionally gaining or losing weight, insomnia, and so on.      The major symptoms of dysthymic disorder are hopelessness, trouble in making decisions and concentrating, excessive anger or irritability, feelings of worries and guilt over the past, lack of energy or tiredness, emptiness, sadness, self-criticism, low self-esteem, and so on.
Causes Having a stressful life, dementia, anxiety, chronic medical issues, experiencing abuse, and sometimes it may be genetic.      Severe medical conditions like cancer, diabetes, chronic stress or trauma, a family or person history of having the dysthymic disorder.
Diagnosis Doctors recognize MDD if a person has at least 5 of its symptoms.      Doctors recognize Dysthymic disorder if a person has at least two of its symptoms.
Treatment Behavioral activation, CBT or cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, medications like SNRIs, SSRIs, and other medications like mirtazapine, bupropion.     CBT or cognitive behavioral therapy, medications like SNRIs, and SSRIs.

What is MDD?

MDD, or major depressive disorder, is a severe mood disorder where an individual can experience a low mood for two weeks or more and lose interest in daily activities. It is also known as clinical depression.

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MDD can cause by having a stressful life, dementia, anxiety, chronic medical issues, experiencing abuse, and sometimes it may be genetic. 

These symptoms must adversely affect the person’s personal life, social life, and job. A person needs to have at least two of these symptoms for at least two weeks.

Psychotherapy-based treatments like Behavioral activation, CBT or cognitive behavioural therapy, interpersonal therapy, and medications like SNRIs, SSRIs, and other medications like mirtazapine and bupropion are used in the treatment of MDD.

major depressive disorder

What is Dysthymic Disorder?

Dysthymic disorder refers to a milder form of depression, less severe than major depressive disorder, and can affect family life, physical health, social life, relationships, and daily activities.

The major symptoms of the dysthymic disorder are hopelessness, trouble in making decisions and concentrating, excessive anger or irritability, feelings of worries and guilt over the past, lack of energy or tiredness, emptiness, sadness, self-criticism, low self-esteem, and so on.

Doctors use the symptoms of the dysthymic disorder to diagnose it. A person needs to have at least two symptoms, including irritability or depression lasting for at least two years, to receive the diagnosis.

Treatment for dysthymic disorder is very similar to the treatment of MDD. Doctors use two methods to treat this disorder- psychotherapy methods like CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) and medications like SNRIs and SSRIs. SSRIs are preferable to doctors and therapists as it has fewer side effects than SNRIs.

dysthymic disorder

Main Difference Between MDD and Dysthymic Disorder 

  1. The major symptoms of MDD are having less pleasure or interest in most of the activities, depressed mood, fatigue, feeling guilty or worthless, unintentionally gaining or losing weight, insomnia, and so on. The major symptoms of dysthymic disorder are
  2. Psychotherapy-based treatments like Behavioral activation, CBT or cognitive behavioural therapy, interpersonal therapy, and medications like SNRIs, SSRIs, and other medications like mirtazapine and bupropion are used in the treatment of MDD. Doctors use two methods to treat dysthymic disorder- psychotherapy methods like CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) and medications like SNRIs and SSRIs.
Difference Between MDD and Dysthymic Disorder
References
  1. https://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&as_sdt=0%2C5&q=what+is+major+depressive+disorder&oq=what+is+Majo#d=gs_qabs&u=%23p%3D3FtbmsfNFLkJ
  2. https://scholar.google.com/scholar?as_ylo=2017&q=what+is+dysthymic+disorder&hl=en&as_sdt=0,5#d=gs_qabs&u=%23p%3DKUizw5nOz5YJ
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Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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10 thoughts on “MDD vs Dysthymic Disorder: Difference and Comparison”

  1. Thank you for shedding light on this important topic. Mental health is crucial and understanding the differences between these two disorders is important for effective treatment.

    Reply
    • I couldn’t agree more. This article is very informative and helpful for those who might be struggling with these problems.

      Reply
  2. The analogy and comparison made between the MDD and Dysthymic Disorder are well-detailed. It really helps people understand the difference between the two.

    Reply
  3. This is a great read! It gives a detailed understanding of the complexities of mental health issues and the importance of seeking treatment.

    Reply
  4. The article highlights the importance of professional treatment for both disorders. It effectively conveys the severity and consequences of these conditions.

    Reply
  5. I believe the comparison between MDD and Dysthymic Disorder should have been more detailed. It lacks depth and there is room for more information to be added.

    Reply
  6. I find it ironic how the treatment for MDD and Dysthymic Disorder is almost identical, despite the differences in their severity. Mental health is truly unpredictable.

    Reply
    • Indeed, mental health can be full of paradoxes. The article does a great job in illustrating the complexities of these conditions.

      Reply

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