Tests and diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

If your doctor suspects you have dysthymia, exams and tests may include:

  • Physical exam. The doctor may do a physical exam and ask in-depth questions about your health to determine what may be causing your dysthymia. In some cases, dysthymia may be linked to an underlying physical health problem.
  • Lab tests. For example, your doctor may order a blood test called a complete blood count, do blood tests to check your folate and Vitamin D levels, or test your thyroid to make sure it's functioning properly.
  • Psychological evaluation. This evaluation includes a discussion about your thoughts, feelings and behavior and may include a questionnaire to help pinpoint a diagnosis.

Checking for other conditions

Several other conditions have symptoms that may resemble dysthymia. Your doctor or mental health provider's evaluation will help determine if you have dysthymia or another condition that can affect your mood, such as major depression, bipolar disorder or seasonal affective disorder.

Diagnostic criteria for dysthymia

To be diagnosed with dysthymia, you must meet the symptom criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) published by the American Psychiatric Association. This manual is used by mental health providers to diagnose mental conditions and by insurance companies to reimburse for treatment.

For a diagnosis of dysthymia, the main indication for an adult differs somewhat from that of a child:

  • For an adult, depressed mood most of the day for two or more years
  • For a child, depressed mood or irritability most of the day for at least one year

In addition to that, you must have at least two of these symptoms, and they must cause distress or interfere with your ability to function in your daily life:

  • Poor appetite or overeating
  • Sleep problems
  • Tiredness or lack of energy
  • Low self-esteem
  • Hopelessness
  • Poor concentration
  • Trouble making decisions
Dec. 20, 2012