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Neurotic depression is one of two main types of depression, the other being psychotic depression. Psychotic depression refers to a type of depression where the sufferer can't function normally and loses touch with reality. This type of depression may be referred to as psychotic major depression or major depression with psychotic features. Neurotic depression on the other hand doesn't involve psychosis and as a result is a long-lasting, low-level depression. Neurotic depression, now more commonly known as dysthymia or dysthymic disorder, generally does not interfere with a person's ability to carry on his or her normal activities, unlike psychotic depression, which is now more commonly known as psychotic major depression (PMD) or major depression with psychotic symptoms.
The defining features of dysthymic disorder or neurotic depression is a chronically low mood that doesn’t interfere profoundly with daily activities. Those with dysthymia suffer from depressed moods for two years or more. In children, the condition may be diagnosed after one year of low-level depression. This type of depression, like most types, may cause other problems, like sleep disturbances, a sense of hopelessness, low self-esteem, over- or under-eating, general tiredness or lowr energy, and difficulty concentrating.
The diagnosis of neurotic depression officially changed with the publication of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manuals III (DSM-III) in 1980. The condition was thereafter known as dysthymia or dysthymic disorder. When it was called neurotic depression, it wasn’t always considered an organic or medical condition. Today, many practitioners argue that this condition is medically-based, and in addition to therapy, medications have become a common form of treatment. A number of antidepressants don’t work as effectively with dysthymia as they do with major depression, so it may take a while to find a medication that is effective at controlling symptoms.
Though dysthymia is not major depression, many health care professionals warn against underestimating it. This condition can cause years of suffering and many people don’t seek treatment because they think it's just a personality trait. A combination of therapy and medication may relieve these symptoms, permitting the sufferer to lead a happier and more fulfilling life. During treatment, health care professionals will be on the look out for the emergence of major depressive disorder. Some clients with neurotic depression ultimately develop this condition too. Having both neurotic and psychotic depression is called double depression.