Persistent depressive disorder or PDD is a mental health condition that is characterized by persistent symptoms of depression. It can be very difficult to treat, and often requires a combination of therapies.
PDD can cause significant impairment in daily functioning, and can often lead to thoughts of suicide. However, with the right treatment, the outlook for persistent depressive disorder is actually quite good.
The main symptom of persistent depressive disorder is a depressed mood, which must be present for at least two years. In these two years, there must also be at least two episodes where the full criteria are met as outlined in the DSM-5. Other symptoms include:
Changes in sleeping patterns
Appetite changes that impact weight loss or gain
Irritability and other personality changes that can indicate depression
Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed – including sex drive
Fatigue and loss of energy
Feelings of worthlessness or guilt – especially if they interfere with your ability to function normally at work or school
Persistent depressive disorder can also cause a persistent lack of ability to concentrate.
People with a persistent depressive disorder often will have periods where they seem relatively normal, only to relapse into depression over and over again. People who suffer from persistent depressive disorder can even lead full lives, marrying and having children without anyone knowing that they are suffering from the condition. Many people never get help for persistent depressive disorder because they don’t know it’s a possibility or mistakes their symptoms for something else entirely, such as chronic fatigue syndrome or something similar.
While the persistent depressive disorder is linked to biological causes, there is no single known cause for people who develop this condition. There are some factors that do increase risk, however:
A family history of persistent depressive disorder increases the risk that you will develop persistent depressive disorder yourself
Childhood abuse or trauma
A mental health condition such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia can be a cause of persistent depressive disorder, especially in children and teens
There is also some evidence to suggest that persistent depressive disorder could be genetically linked, even if it doesn’t appear in the family tree.
Often persistent depressive disorder does not respond well to medication alone. In fact, research suggests medication may only be effective for about 50% of people who have a persistent depressive disorder. For these reasons, persistent depressive disorders should include a combination of talk therapy and medication. The right kind of psychological treatment is important because they help people with persistent depressive disorder improve their quality of life by reducing symptoms.
There are some types of talk therapy that have been shown to be especially effective in persistent depressive disorder, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy. Therapy with a psychiatrist or other mental health professionals can also help people cope with persistent depressive disorder or bipolar II through education on how to manage the condition.
For most people who suffer from persistent depressive disorder, medication is considered an important part of treatment. Some medications that are commonly used to treat the persistent depressive disorder include:
Antidepressants – These drugs treat depression by increasing serotonin levels in the brain; they include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (NRIs), tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).
Persistent depressive disorder is a persistent, often chronic state of depression. One in ten people will experience a persistent depressive disorder at some point in their lives and it can be hard to diagnose due to its persistent nature. If you think that you or someone else may have a persistent depressive disorder, the first step should be an evaluation by your doctor to rule out other medical conditions. After diagnosis, treatment for persistent depressive disorder typically includes medication as well as talk therapy with either a psychiatrist or psychologist. Talk therapies are designed specifically for persistent depressive disorders and help patients cope with symptoms so they can lead full lives despite having this condition. Therapy might include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or interpersonal therapy which has been shown to reduce the severity of symptoms associated with persistent depressive disorder.