It is a slow onset depression often beginning before the age of 20. It is persistent for at least two years. The person often complains that he has always been depressed. The symptoms are similar to unipolar depression but less severe lasting for a period of not more than two months at a time.
A person with dysthymia often overcompensates his low self-esteem and feeling of inadequacy by dedicating his life to jobs that require dependability and great attention to the detail. They invest whatever energy they have in work leaving none for leisure or family/social activities which often results in marital friction. It may progress to unipolar depression.