chapter  8
14 Pages

Treatment for Less Severe Mood Disorders

Dysthymic and cyclothymic disorders are the "minor league" variations of major depressive and bipolar disorder. They tend to be less severe, though more chronic. They might be considered the "dripping faucet" of mild chronic mood disorders, as compared to the "broken pipe" of severe or psychotic major mood disorders. Still, the social cost and personal difficulties associated with mild but more enduring problems may be more significant than for acute, more severe difficulties. Studies {e.g., Wells, Golding, and Burnam, 1988) reveal that more than a fourth of the patients with dysthymic disorder show a decrease in their level of activities. A significant percentage, almost one in six, report sometimes staying in bed the entire day, more than three times the rate of the general population. The diagnosis of dysthymic disorders in adults, for example, reflects behavioral patterns that have been present, without more than minor interruptions, for at least two years. This indicates a noteworthy and persistent degree of difficulty in functioning, perhaps accumulating over the years to greater "water loss" than might be experienced with the "broken pipe" problem of acute major d·epression. These mood disorders are "minor" only in terms of severity of symptom, not in terms of the consequences to patients or to the general population.