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What is Neurotic Depression?

Tricia Christensen
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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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. This kind of 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 include 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 this depression ultimately develop this condition, too. Having both neurotic and psychotic depression is called double depression.

TheHealthBoard is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a TheHealthBoard contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

Discussion Comments

By Talentryto — On Feb 19, 2014

Thank you for sharing your friend's story Rundocuri. As a society, we need to think of depression just like we would any other disease, and encourage people to seek prompt treatment. It is long over due to get over the stereotypes and stigmas associated with mental illness so the society as a whole will become healthier.

By Rundocuri — On Feb 18, 2014

I have a friend who suffers from depression, and she put off seeking treatment for many years because she was afraid of what people would think of her if they knew about her problem. She found a great therapist who helped her work through her issues, and encouraged her to not be ashamed of this condition. She wishes she had sought treatment sooner, because she feels great today.

Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen


With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a TheHealthBoard contributor, Tricia...
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