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There are two causes of dysthymia: co-occurring conditions and double-depression. Patients with dysthymia are often diagnosed with a chronic physical illness or another psychiatric disorder such as anxiety disorder, drug addiction, or alcoholism.

Common co-occurring conditions include one or more of the following:

  • Major depression
  • Anxiety disorder
  • Personality disorder
  • Somatoform disorder
  • Substance abuse

People with dysthymia have a higher chance of developing major depression. When an intense episode of depression occurs with dysthymia, patients are typically diagnosed with double-depression.

With this in mind, double-depression occurs when the person experiences a depressive episode on top of an already existing condition. Double-depression is difficult to treat because people believe that symptoms derived from the disorder are a natural part of their personality and they are a part of life that is outside normal control.

People with dysthymia accept these symptoms, which delays treatment. Hopelessness is a common symptom of double-depression, but it is a useful symptom for mental health providers whose focus is to treat the condition with a variety of therapies, specifically cognitive therapy.

Double-depression is treated by first treating the dysthymia and preventing it from reoccurring.

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