Breaking the silence by talking together and making sense of the illness together is the heart of our approach to treating depression in children.
William Beardslee, MD, academic chair of Psychiatry at Boston Children's Hospital
It can be unbearable to imagine your child suffering the feelings of sadness, lethargy and discouragement caused by a depressive disorder like dysthymia—but it’s important to know that there’s hope. As awareness of adult mental health disorders has dramatically increased in recent years, so too has understanding of the many kinds of mood disorders that affect children.
While major depression is a well-known illness, dysthymia—also known as dysthymic disorder—is less familiar to most people. Like major depression, dysthymia is a mood disorder.
- is less severe than major depression, but lasts for longer periods of time
- may affect a child for as long as one to five years
- affects about four out of 100 children and adolescents in any year, but may affect upwards of 20% by the end of adolescence
- is marked by a persistent feeling of mild depression, but may cause more extreme feelings from time to time
- is often undiagnosed and if left untreated can lead to more serious mental health and behavioral problems
- responds very well to psychotherapy and medication when treated by qualified mental health professionals
|Did you know?|
How Boston Children's Hospital approaches dysthymia
Children’s Hospital Boston has long been at the forefront of providing expert, compassionate care to children and adolescents with mental and behavioral health problems. Our Department of Psychiatry team members are leaders in researching, diagnosing and treating dysthymia and other depressive disorders, as well as:
- anxiety disorders
- bipolar disorder
- eating disorders
- post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- substance abuse problems
- suicidal thinking
Children’s approach to mental health care is evidence-based—which means that our treatments have been tested and proven effective through scientific studies, both here at our hospital and by other leading institutions worldwide.
|Could depressive episodes be prevented?|
Through a series of long-term studies with families affected by depression, William Beardslee, MD—academic chair of Psychiatry at Children’s and an expert on mood disorders—has developed a step-by-step approach to help families cope with depression while encouraging resiliency in their children. This research is now being used to treat families throughout the country, and in several other countries, as well.
|Calling for mental health reform|
TIn 2006, Children’s co-wrote a paper, “Children’s Mental Health in the Commonwealth: The Time is NOW” that highlighted the critical need for increased, improved and revitalized mental health services for Massachusetts children and families. Today, we continue to advocate for a comprehensive reform of the state’s mental health system. Learn more about our efforts.
Dysthymia: Reviewed by David R. DeMaso, MD
© Children’s Hospital Boston; posted in 2011