Types of Depression: Persistent Depressive Disorder

When dealing with depression, understanding the type of depression that you experience is a key component in building the right strategy to regain control of your mental health. Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD), also known as dysthymia, is a form of chronic depression that can cause a range of negative impacts on a person’s life. It is estimated that 1.5% of Americans experience PDD. Here’s all you need to know about the condition.

What is persistent depression?

Most people are prone to feeling low at some stage in their lives while millions will experience symptoms of depression too, not least since the pandemic. The primary indicator that an individual is experiencing PDD is that the symptoms last for at least two years (or one year in children) with the symptoms impacting several aspects of their lives. Common symptoms include, but are not limited to;

  • Feeling low every day for almost all of the day.
  • Insomnia or trouble getting to sleep.
  • Hypersomnia and excessive sleeping.
  • Low energy levels and long-term fatigue.
  • Poor concentration levels and indecisiveness.
  • A loss of appetite or overeating.
  • Low self-esteem and feelings of hopelessness.
  • Experiencing at least one episode of major depression.

How is it different from major depressive disorder?

While PDD and major depressive disorder (MDD) do share several common traits, there are differences. People who experience persistent depression may notice fewer symptoms, but they last longer (for at least two years) whereas MDD covers more symptoms but has episodes separated by two months. You could gain a diagnosis of MDD after just two weeks of symptoms, which is vastly different from the chronic nature of PDD.

Who is at risk?

While 1.5% of the U.S. population is thought to have PDD at any given time, the number of people who experience it at some stage in their lives is far higher. It can affect anybody of any age or gender, although studies show that women are more commonly affected than men while the average age is 31

Ultimately, everyone is at risk of dysthymia. This includes men, women, children, and the elderly.

Signs of persistent depression in men

Signs of PDD in men can include sudden weight changes, a withdrawal from social activities or hobbies, mood swings or anger, and general sadness. The symptoms will most likely occur over an extended period.

Signs of persistent depression in women

Women experiencing PDD may notice hormonal changes such as menstruation, puberty, pregnancy, menopause, and miscarriage. Dark moods will be felt on a daily basis, which can also affect productivity at work and family life. 

Signs of persistent depression in older adults

For older adults, PDD may cause the symptoms of physical health conditions to feel worse. Meanwhile, taking time off from work, feelings of loneliness, and memory problems may all be attributed to dysthymia.

Signs of persistent depression in younger adults

Young adults, adolescents, and even children may experience dysthymia. Suicidal thoughts, a lack of emotion, weight fluctuations, withdrawn social interactions from friends, and poor sleep patterns are all potential signs. 

What triggers depression?

Depression can affect different people in different ways and may be attributed to a wide range of issues. Likewise, it can be triggered by a variety of causes. The most common include traumatic life events, brain trauma, and imbalances in brain circuitry. Meanwhile, continued exposure to an underlying cause of depression can increase the risk of developing a chronic condition.

How is it diagnosed?

Persistent depression should only be diagnosed by an experienced health professional, like a psychiatrist or primary care doctor. They can complete a thorough evaluation of the symptoms that a person has experienced over the past two years (or longer) to identify the issues.

It is a process that may include physical examinations to help find underlying issues, as well as lab tests to rule out other conditions. Psychological analysis can also be used to consider medical histories, family histories, and circumstantial issues that could affect the symptoms of PDD.

How is it treated?

PDD is usually treated through two methods, psychotherapy and medication. However, additional steps like avoiding situations that make you feel depressed. Ultimately, a tailored plan will be designed to reflect;

  • The severity of symptoms and how long you’ve had them.
  • Whether you’ve previously tried other treatment types.
  • Whether you want to use medication or not.
  • Any other conditions that you may be facing.

How to get help at Peaks Recovery Centers

As an individual experiencing PDD, it is important to understand other factors that contribute to your mental health. If addiction has played a role in your ongoing PDD, PDD can help you regain control with tailored therapies that work for coexisting conditions.

To learn more, get in touch today.