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Am J Psychiatry. 1983 Jan;140(1):11-20.

Dysthymic disorder: psychopathology of proposed chronic depressive subtypes.


The author develops a nosologic framework for understanding the psychopathology of low-grade chronic depressions: 1) late-onset primary depressions with residual chronicity, 2) chronic secondary dysphorias, having a variable onset age and considered part of the symptomatic picture of nonaffective "neurotic" disorders or reactions to longstanding incapacitating medical diseases, and 3) early-onset characterologic depressions, which include a) character-spectrum disorders developing in the setting of tempestuous early object relationships and b) subaffective dysthymic disorders, conceptualized as genetically attenuated forms of primary affective illnesses. Differences in family history, REM latency, and pharmacologic responsiveness are presented in support of these distinctions. The author also proposes operational criteria to identify a thymoleptic-responsive subaffective dysthymic group.

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