Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD)

What is Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD)?

Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD), also known as Dysthymia, is a continuous long-term (chronic) form of depression. It typically lasts for at least several years but is not sufficiently severe. Also, individual episodes may not be sufficiently prolonged enough to justify a diagnosis of severe, moderate, or mild recurrent depressive disorder.

If you have PDD, you may find it hard to feel upbeat even during happy occasions Hence, you may be described to have a gloomy personality or being incapable of having fun.

You may also lose interest in normal daily activities, feel hopeless, lack productivity, and have low self-esteem and an overall feeling of inadequacy. These feelings last for years and may significantly interfere with your relationships, school, work and daily activities.

Though PDD as a whole is not as severe as major depression, current depressed moods, or individual episodes, may be mild, moderate or severe.



The exact causes of Persistent Depressive Disorder are not known. Here are some likely causes:

✽   Biological Differences

People with PDD may experience chemical or connectivity differences in their brains. The significance of these differences is still uncertain, but research may eventually help pinpoint causes.

✽   Brain Chemistry

Neurotransmitters are naturally occurring brain chemicals that are likely to play a role in depression. For example, serotonin, a neurotransmitter, is a natural hormone that controls our emotions and feelings of well-being. It also influences other body functions. Low levels of serotonin may be involved in maintaining mood stability and may play a significant role in depression and its treatment.

✽   Family History

PDD appears to be more common in people whose blood relatives also have the condition. Researchers are trying to find genes that may be involved in causing depression.

✽   Life Events

Traumatic events such as the loss of a loved one, financial problems or a high level of stress can trigger PDD in some people.


Risk Factors

Persistent Depressive Disorder often begins early, either in childhood, the teen years or young adult life. Certain factors appear to increase the risk of developing PDD, including:


Signs and Symptoms

Persistent Depressive Disorder symptoms usually come and go over a period of years, and their intensity can change over time. But typically symptoms don't disappear for more than two months at a time. In addition, major depressive episodes may occur before or during PDD — this is sometimes called Double Depression.

Symptoms of Persistent Depressive Disorder can cause significant impairment and may include:

  • Loss of interest in daily activities
  • Sadness, emptiness or feeling down
  • Hopelessness
  • Fatigue
  • Low self-esteem
  • Lack of concentration
  • Irritability or excessive anger
  • Avoidance of social activities
  • Poor appetite or overeating
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much

In children, symptoms of PDD may also include depressed mood and irritability.


Coping Mechanisms

There's no sure way to prevent Persistent Depressive Disorder. Since it often starts in childhood or during the teenage years, identifying children at risk of the condition may help them get early treatment.

Strategies that may help ward off symptoms include the following:

  • Take steps to control stress to increase your resilience and to boost your self-esteem
  • Reach out to family and friends especially in times of crisis to help you weather rough spells
  • Get treatment at the earliest sign of a problem to help prevent symptoms from worsening
  • Consider getting long-term maintenance treatment to help prevent a relapse of symptoms
  • Hang out with people who have positive attitudes
  • Spend time outside



The two main treatments for Persistent Depressive Disorder are medications and psychotherapy.

✽   Medication

Antidepressants are prescription drugs that can relieve depression. There are many different kinds of medication for the treatment of depression. The most commonly used fall into two broad categories:

  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)
  • Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs)

✽   Psychotherapy

Counselling can also help manage PDD. One type of therapy, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), is often helpful for depression. A therapist or psychologist will help you examine your thoughts and emotions and how they affect your actions. CBT can help you unlearn negative thoughts and develop more positive thinking.

Watch the video attached to learn more.