Only 1 in 5 people who have dysthymia or other forms of depression ever seek help. However dysthymia is a very treatable disorder, and with the right kind of treatment nearly every patient can experience significant relief in 12 to 14 weeks. Untreated, many people with dysthymia eventually develop major depression.

Often, psychotherapy is recommended first for three months, followed by antidepressants if therapy alone is not effective. Sometimes, a combination of psychotherapy and antidepressants is used early on. Newer SSRI antidepressants such as Prozac, Zoloft and Paxil are of variable helpfulness with this disorder.


  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy, which shows patients how to change self-defeating and disturbed thought patterns into more positive and productive ways of thinking. The behavioral aspect of therapy includes training in asserting oneself, practicing relaxation techniques, and increasing pleasurable activities
  • Interpersonal therapy, which focuses on developing better relationships
  • Cultural analysis, which points out unrealistic societal messages that contribute to low self-esteem and a sense of powerlessness, especially for women
  • Group therapy and self-help, which provide a source of emotional support and vital social connections