Harvard Men's Health Watch

The lowdown on low-grade depression

It's called dysthymia, and it often goes unnoticed and thus undiagnosed and untreated.

depression dysmythmia
Image: Thinkstock

Everyone feels down at some time. You may lack energy, have trouble sleeping, or just feel blah. The feeling often goes away, or it comes and goes, but does not seem like a cause for concern. Yet if these blue feelings persist, they could be a red flag for a type of depression called dysthymia, or low-grade depression.

"Even though dysthymia is regarded as a lesser form of depression, it should be taken seriously," explains Dr. David Mischoulon, psychiatrist at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital. "Its persistent hold can interfere with your health, family, and social life."

Difficult to diagnose

Dysthymia can occur in short episodes and be separated by considerable spans of time. You may suffer from dysthymia if your depressed mood is present more days than not, lingers for more than two years without at least two months of interruption, and is accompanied by some of the following symptoms:

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