What is Persistent Depressive Disorder?

Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD or dysthymia) is a chronic form of depression. The symptoms of PDD can look similar to Major Depression, but not to the same degree or severity. For example, someone with Persistent Depressive Disorder may experience low energy during the day, but this low energy level may not be severe enough to prevent someone from getting out of bed in the morning. However, the decreased level of energy can impair a person’s ability to engage in daily activities.

Other symptoms may include:

  • Negative ruminating thoughts
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Poor self-esteem
  • Passive suicidal ideation, which can become actual suicidal ideation
  • Anhedonia- inability to find pleasure or enjoyment
  • Decreased appetite or overeating
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability- more likely to be seen in children and adolescents
  • Feelings of guilt regarding past behavior or seemingly benign events

Persistent Depressive Disorder vs. Major Depressive Disorder

Another important distinction to make between Major Depressive Disorder and Persistent Depressive Disorder is the time course of the low mood. Persistent Depressive Disorder is characterized by a low mood that is not cyclical, but persistent, as the name suggests. A person with this condition may experience symptoms that last for a minimum of 2 years. There may be brief periods of improvement, but the symptoms tend to return within 1-2 months. It should also be noted that episodes of Major Depression can happen while in the midst of a persistently depressive mood. Past nomenclature might refer to this as double depression.

People with Major Depressive Disorder typically experience depressive symptoms in a cyclical fashion. At minimum, symptoms of a major depressive episode last for 2 weeks. On average, a major depressive episode can last for 3-6 months before improving without intervention. It is possible for there to be a decline in mood again in the future (known as a recurrent episode). It is also possible for a depressive episode to never happen again.

If you suspect that you may be experiencing Persistent Depressive Disorder symptoms, you can speak to a CUBE representative for consultation. If interested in a more formal evaluation, an appointment can be scheduled, if appointment times and your insurance allow. Talk therapy, antidepressants, exercise, diet changes, and environmental changes are mainstays of treatment for this condition. The C.U.B.E. may be able to help.

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