Persistent Depressive Disorder: Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD), or dysthymia, is a type of chronic depression in which a person experiences low-level depressed mood over a long period of time.A person with ASD may be able to carry out daily activities, but they may also experience frequent episodes of irritability, stress, and trouble sleeping.

About 3-6% of people have PDD. However, some people may not realize they have a health condition because they may perceive their symptoms as part of their personality. Symptoms of PDD usually appear earlier in life.

A person with ASD may experience low self-esteem or feelings of inadequacy. The condition can also lead to difficulty thinking, social withdrawal, and general loss of interest. PDD can also occur alongside periods of major depression.

Read on to learn more about the symptoms of PDD. This article also covers its causes and treatment options.

What is Persistent Depressive Disorder?

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PDD is a long-term form of chronic depression. A person with ASD may lose interest in their usual activities and have low self-esteem or a general feeling of inadequacy. Symptoms can last for years and interfere with work, relationships, and daily life.

A person with ASD may seem unenthusiastic or downcast. Some people may not recognize that they have depression, especially if their symptoms have been present since childhood or adolescence.

Visit our depression center here.

Vs. major depressive disorder

Different types of depression have similar symptoms, including feeling down, difficulty concentrating, and feelings of hopelessness or low self-esteem. However, they may appear at different times or in different degrees of severity.

PDD can begin in childhood or early adulthood. As the symptoms may persist, the person may not realize that they are suffering from a form of depression. The TED tends to last at least 2 years.

In contrast, the symptoms of major depressive disorder may seem more severe, but they don’t last as long. An episode of major depressive disorder usually lasts about 2 weeks or more.

About 75% of people with ASD will experience at least one episode of major depressive disorder. This is called the “double depression”.

Is persistent depressive disorder a disability?

Since the symptoms of ASD are chronic but usually not as severe as those of other types of depression, the condition may not be considered a disability.

However, PDD can be considered a disability if you can show that it seriously affects your ability to carry out daily activities. It can also be considered a disability if you have prolonged periods of severe symptoms.

What are the symptoms of persistent depressive disorder?

A person with ASD tends to be moody and have difficulty performing daily tasks. Other examples of PDD symptoms include:

  • to feel inadequate
  • have low self-esteem
  • feeling irritable or angry
  • to feel guilty
  • lose interest in doing things
  • withdraw from social interactions
  • have fatigue or chronic fatigue
  • have reduced productivity
  • having trouble thinking or concentrating
  • have a bad memory
  • have difficulty making decisions

Symptoms of depression tend to be the same or very similar, regardless of the type of depression. However, the severity and duration of symptoms can help determine the type of depression a person has.

Symptoms of PDD last for several years and can begin in childhood or early adulthood. Although the symptoms may not be as severe as with other variants of depression, such as major depressive disorder, they persist for long periods of time.

Who can suffer from persistent depressive disorder?

Anyone, regardless of age, can experience symptoms of ASD. An adult can be diagnosed with PDD if they have had symptoms for at least 2 years, with no more than 2 symptom-free months during that time. For children and adolescents, symptoms must be present for 1 year.

At least 3% of the population of the United States suffers from PDD. There are usually twice as many cases in women as in men.

What causes persistent depressive disorder?

There is no known cause of PDD. However, it’s possible that problems with chemicals in the brain, including serotonin, could play a role. As serotonin influences mood and positive emotions, a lack of serotonin can lead to low mood.

There are risk factors that make an individual more likely to develop PDD. These include:

  • to experience loss or bereavement
  • have feelings of stress
  • have a long-term illness
  • victim of child abuse or abuse by a partner
  • having a family history of depression
  • have a history of substance abuse
  • sustain a brain injury

Contact a doctor as soon as you start to experience symptoms of depression or as soon as you think you might be feeling depressed. They will be able to rule out any underlying conditions that may be contributing to your symptoms and refer you to a mental health specialist.

Get tips for talking to your doctor about treatments for depression here.

Diagnosing persistent depressive disorder

For a doctor to diagnose a PDD, a depressed mood must have been present for 2 years for an adult or 1 year for a child or adolescent. A child or adolescent may exhibit irritability instead of depression. During this period, there should not be a symptom-free period that lasts longer than 2 months.

The person must also experience at least two of the following symptoms:

  • feelings of hopelessness
  • low self-esteem
  • fatigue or lack of energy
  • an inability to concentrate or make decisions
  • lack of appetite or overeating
  • insomnia or sleepiness during the day

Following a diagnosis of PDD, your doctor may refer you to a mental health specialist.

Treatment Options for Persistent Depressive Disorder

Treatments may differ depending on your personal situation, but treatment will usually include therapy, medication, or both. Most people respond better to treatment when they take appropriate medication and undergo therapy.

Antidepressants include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). Both can help increase serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin contributes to positive mood and emotions.

Therapy for depression may include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy. CBT is talk therapy that helps you understand your feelings and change the way you respond to them. Interpersonal therapy connects your depression to relationships with others and helps you overcome these emotions.

Learn more about these treatment options with our guides to CBT and understanding antidepressants.

PDD is a form of chronic depression in which a person experiences low-level depressed mood over a long period of time. It is also known as dysthymia.

Symptoms include feelings of inadequacy, loss of interest, inability to make decisions, and difficulty sleeping. Many people can go through their day while experiencing these symptoms. People with the disease since adolescence may not know they have mental health issues.

A doctor can diagnose PDD once an adult has had depressed mood for at least 2 years or a child or teen has had similar symptoms for at least 1 year. After diagnosis, treatments such as CBT and antidepressants can help manage the condition.

Contact your doctor if you experience symptoms of depression or think you have PDD.

About Antoine L. Cassell

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