Dysthymic Disorder and Major Depressive Disorder are actually two different versions of depression. Dysthymic Disorder is noted for chronic depression.
The definition for Dysthymic Disorder is that it is a “mood disorder with chronic depressive symptoms that are present most of the day, more days than not, for a period of at least two years.” (Minddisorders.com). The symptoms are usually present for years and can include low self esteem, decreased motivation, change in sleeping patterns and change in appetite patterns. Causes of this type of depression are things like a person’s upbringing. If a person is brought up in a home where abuse is prevalent an adult can suffer from depression for their entire life. Treatment for this type of depression is generally psychotherapy but sometimes is combined with antidepressants.
Similarly Major Depressive Disorder is the next level of depression and is defined as, “a condition characterized by a long lasting depressed mood or marked loss of interest or pleasure in all or nearly all activities” (Minddisorder.com). This form of depression has an intense impact on a person’s life. It usually comes about when a person suffers a traumatic event, but this does not always happen. Symptoms can include a disturbed mood throughout most of the day, a change in the sleep pattern, a change in the appetite pattern, a loss of interest in things that are considered pleasurable, but then go further to include problems when trying to concentrate or think in depth, psychomotor retardation or agitation and thoughts of suicide. If this form of depression is left untreated it can last longer than four months and recurrence is eminent. Treatments for Major Depressive Disorder include psychotherapy or talk therapy, electroconvulsive therapy or ECT and antidepressant medications or a combination of these treatments.
Nearly everything about these two disorders are similar, the main difference is that major depressive disorder is an extension of Dysthymic Disorder in that symptoms and moods are more severe therefore treatments need to be more involved and more inclusive.
Netherton, S.D., Holmes, D., Walker, C.E., Child and Adolescent Psychological Disorders
Blaney, P.H., Millon, T., Oxford Textbook of Psychopathology.
Depression (Major Depressive Disorder) http://psychcentral.com/disorders/sx22.htm
Dysthymic Disorder. minddisorder.com. http://www.minddisorders.com/Del-Fi/Dysthymic-disorder.html
Dissociative Identity Disorder. Psychnet-uk.com. http://www.psychnet-uk.com/dsm_iv/dissociative_identity_disorder.htm
Major Depressive Disorder. minddisorder.com. http://www.minddisorders.com/Kau-Nu/Major-depressive-disorder.html