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The Difference between MDD and Dysthymic Disorder


We often hear the term “depression” as it frequently describes a person’s mood and affect. It is an extreme joyless emotion that some people experience at some point in their lives. The mood and the disorder are separated only by duration. When the feeling of depression is prolonged without adequate and appropriate coping mechanism, it becomes a depressive disorder.

In technical terms, depressive disorders are psychological state that involves the mind and the well being of a person. These disorders, mostly affect the way an individual thinks, responds and choose to experience circumstances up to the point that he feels life is not worth living. Most people don’t realize the severity and intensity of a person’s depressive state can bring. It can be detrimental not only to the person afflicted, but also to the people around him.

Basically, depressive disorders are categorized into different types and a number of stratagems are currently used to diagnose these disorders. However, for several years the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) has long been the predominant choice of diagnostic framework for most psychologists and psychiatrists.

Major Types of Depressive Disorders

There are three major types of depressive disorders the following are Major Depression, Dysthymic and Manic Depression. Manic depression is much easier to diagnose because it manifests unique symptoms compared to the two former depressive disorders. The person with manic depression exhibits feelings revolving around mania (extreme excitement) and depression, which can occur at the same time or at two different instances, the person’s feelings cycle between depressive and manic states. As for MDD and dysthymic, people who are not well informed, get confused with the two. Below, is a comparison table to further understand these disorders.

MDD and Dysthymic Disorder – The Comparison



MDD (Major Depressive Disorder)

Dysthymic Disorder

Dysthymia Depressive Disorder


Sudden depressive state.

Depression is present and significant most of the day.

Chronic depressive state.

It is generally milder compared to MDD and are more enduring. A person who suffers with this disorder does not exhibit the depressive symptoms every day.


Extreme depression is manifested for a minimum of two weeks. This type of depressive disorder is sub-divided into:

  • Depressive Disorder Single Episode

  • Depressive Disorder Recurrent Episodes

Consistent depression is exhibited by a person most of the days, for a period of two years. If left without any psychotherapy, dysthymia can progress to MDD which is more severe.

Signs and Symptoms

The major indicator of MDD is noticeable in person who has lost interest to live and decline interest in activities of daily living.

  • Sleeplessness or oversleeping

  • Fatigue or loss of energy

  • Difficulty in concentrating

  • Unable to make sane decisions

  • Suicidal thoughts

  • Feelings of guilt, resentment, worthlessness and

  • Extreme sadness and emptiness

  • Very low self-esteem

Signs and symptoms of this disorder can cause distress, but are not severe compared to that of MDD.

  • Change in eating habits, usually decrease or increase in appetite

  • Sleeplessness or oversleeping

  • Low self-esteem accompanied by hopelessness

  • Difficulty concentrating and making decisions

The need for facility or hospital care

Person with MDD needs inpatient care to prevent suicidal tendencies and ensure safety.

In most cases, outpatient care is more commonly rendered to persons having this disorder.


Double depression is a term used when a person is having more severe depressive mood on top of dsythymia. This happens when the usual feeling of low mood is superimposed by major depressive episodes. This can lead to a full blown MDD.

While some are less affected by depression, others suffer gravely. If you or someone you know exhibits depressive disorders, don’t be afraid or be embarrassed to seek or assist someone to seek for professional care. These disorders are treatable through proper medication and psychotherapy.

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