Dysphoria comes from the Greek roots dys (ill or difficult) and phoros (to bear). It describes a state of depression, restlessness, anxiety, discontent, irritability, or feeling unwell or unhappy. It is considered the opposite of euphoriaOpens in new window (feeling well or elated). The term was used by Hippocrates (460 – 337BC) in On the Sacred Disease (Marneros, 2001).
Dysphoria can be a temporary mood or a natural reaction to life stresses, frustrations, or losses (Thase, & Lang, 2004). It can also be a symptom of a mood disorder (e.g., major depressive disorderOpens in new window, bipolar disorderOpens in new window, anxietyOpens in new window, or dysthymiaOpens in new window). It has been associated with premenstrual syndromeOpens in new window, alexithymiaOpens in new window, and schizophreniaOpens in new window (and other psychoses).
While dysphoria is often associated with depressive states, it may also be associated with manic and hypomanic states in bipolar disorder (Marneros, 2001). Gender identity disorder includes gender dysphoriaOpens in new window, a sense of unease or dissatisfaction when an individual’s gender is in conflict with his or her physical sex.
Dysphoria can be an effect of certain drugs (e.g., alcohol and other depressants) or drug withdrawal (e.g., stimulus, cocaine, MDMA, opiates). It can be a side effect of some medications (e.g., antipsychotics, some antidepressants, Ritalin, opiates). Dysphoria has also been linked to self-medication: an individual may use a drug (e.g., marijuana) in an attempt to alleviate dysphoric feelings (Castle & Murray, 2004). Dysphoria can be caused by physiological conditions such as hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
- Castle, D., & Murray, R. (Eds.). (2004). Marijuana and madness: Psychiatry and neurobiology. West Nyack, NY: Cambridge University Press.
- Marneros, A., & Angst, J. (2001). Bipolar disorders: 100 years after manic-depressive insanity. Hingham, MA: Kluwer Academic.
- Thase, M.E., & Lang, S.S. (2004). Beating the blues: New approaches to overcoming dysthymia and chronic mild depression. New York: Oxford University Press.