Information About and Insights Into Dysthymia and Clinical Depression


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Mary R. Drews

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Welcome to I created this website to help others who are struggling with depression and dysthymia. Please note that information about depression is constantly evolving in one way or another. I try to keep this site up to date, but it is always a good idea to use multiple sources for information.

Dysthymia (Dysthymic Disorder or Chronic Depression):

This page answers many of your questions about dysthymia (often misspelled as "disthymia"), also referred to as dysthymic disorder or chronic depression: 

  • What is dysthymia? What are its symptoms?
  • Who gets dysthymia?
  • How is dysthymia treated?
  • Substance abuse and dysthymia
  • What are some coping strategies for dysthymia?

Major Depression (Clinical Depression):

This page discusses clinical depression, also referred to as major depression, major depressive disorder, or  unipolar depression. Some of the questions answered include:

  • What is major depression?
  • Who gets major depression?
  • What are the symptoms of  major depression?
  • What are the treatments for major depression?

Double Depression:

  • What is double depression?
  • How is double depression treated?
  • What special problems does double depression present?

Other Types of Depression:

  • Bipolar depression
  • Postpartum depression (the "Baby Blues")
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.)
  • Links to other websites

Children & Teens:

  • Can children or teenagers get dysthymia and major depression?
  • What are the treatments for children or teens who are depressed or dysthymic?

Coping Tools:

  • What can help a person with depression cope?
  • How can a dysthymic person get through the rough spots?
  • What can a person with major depression do while waiting for the treatment to take effect?

Family & Friends:

  • What not to do for a person with depression.
  • What to do for a person with depression.
  • How can I educate my family and friends about my illness?


  • Mary's blog as it relates to depression and dysthymia, as well as updates to this website.

DepressionPlace Shop:

  • Are there books on dysthymic disorder and depression?
  • Is there any music that can help me relax or sleep?
  • What kinds of items can help me feel better?


  • Where can I find more information about dysthymia and other types of clinical depression?

About Mary Drews &

  • What credentials does Mary have?
  • Why has Mary created this web site?
  • What is Mary's experience with dysthymia and clinical depression?
  • Mary's poetry

The Stigma of Mental Illness

Tradition holds fast. Stigma clings. It's hard to distance ourselves from the stereotypical "lunatic." There's almost a mystique surrounding mental illness; it's a curiosity, something to be looked at in a sideshow from safely behind a sturdy railing.

In fact, the entire stereotype of mental illness is born of something much simpler and less glamorous: ignorance.

Education in schools and through public health outlets is a good start. Consumer advertising for antidepressant medications even helps to bring the issue of depression into the mainstream. We're sowing the seeds: depression is a biological illness, a chemical imbalance. A physical illness of the brain. It's not much different in that sense from diabetes. The brain doesn't produce enough serotonin (or other chemicals); the pancreas doesn't produce enough insulin. Simple.

Celebrities add their hands in helping to overcome the stigma of mental illness when they come forward to talk about their psychiatric conditions. But there's a double standard applied to musicians and Hollywood actors. It's all right for Carrie Fisher to be bipolar; but Joe down the street is just weird or creepy. We call Betty Ford a strong and courageous woman; but Sally at the PTA is just a drunk. Somehow it's all right for those "showbiz" people to be "messed up." They're distant and hardly real.

I believe a major part of the problem lies in the classification of "mental" as compared to "physical" illness. We have evidence that nearly all mental illness -- depressive illnesses in particular -- are biological, physical in nature. But the term "mental illness" conjures up rubber rooms, straightjackets, and barred windows. The fact is that the majority of people with mental illness are working at your company, eating at your favorite restaurant, or even teaching your children.

Each of us learns to deal with the stigma attached to mental illness in our own way. One person's method or mental gymnastics may not suffice for another person. To get past the stigma of mental illness in society, each of us with a mental illness must get past the stigma in our own minds.

My way of dealing with my mental illnesses (depression, dysthymia, anxiety disorder) is to talk about them openly to anyone who cares to listen. Part of what feeds stigma is fear of stigma. Around we go. The more we try to hide and whisper about mental illness, the more mental illness is perceived to be something to hide and be ashamed of. The same goes for substance abuse. Someone has to break the cycle. Many have to break the cycle.

For all that depression gets mentioned in the popular press, it isn't enough. The public needs to better understand other depressive illnesses and other mental illnesses. For example, we don't hear about dysthymia (dysthymic disorder or chronic depression) in ads for Zoloft or Wellbutrin. Even as the stigma surrounding clinical (major) depression begins to erode, dysthymia remains in the dark. A huge number of people still think that Dissociative Identity Disorder or DID (formerly called Multiple Personality Disorder) is schizophrenia.

As with many issues, I believe there are several "right" ways to eradicate the stigma surrounding mental illness. With joint efforts of public health departments, mental health advocacy groups, pharmaceutical companies, and people with mental illness, we can help more people understand what mental illness is and what it isn't.

One of my strongest motivations to do this web site is to help increase the awareness of dysthymia. You do not have to be desperately depressed to have a treatable illness. I also hope to help encourage people who think they may have some form of depression to seek help.

It may not be much, but it's what I can do. For now.

Mary R. Drews

List of pages on


If you are in crisis...

If you feel like you might harm yourself or try to commit suicide, there is help. Call 911 or call one of these toll-free numbers:


Teens call:

There really is hope.
I've been there, and I'm still here.


Throughout this site, you will see underlined words. If you click on those words, you will go to the Glossary, which will have brief definitions of the words. The Glossary will always open in a new window, so you won't lose your place.



Major Depression 

Double Depression

Other Depression Types

 Children & Teens

Coping Tools 

Family & Friends


DepressionPlace Shop Links



DISCLAIMER: This website is for information purposes only and is not to be used in place of proper medical consultation or treatment. It is not meant to diagnose or treat any condition. The content has not been reviewed for medical accuracy. Wherever possible, links to external websites appear for further reference. is written and maintained by Mary R. Drews, who is a writer and a medical copy editor and who has personal experience with depression.
If you think you are depressed, see your doctor. If it is an emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.
All content on this website is copyright 20032014 Mary R. Drews. All rights reserved. No part of this website may be copied or used in any way without express, written permission from the copyright holder.