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What is Persistent Depressive Disorder

A man sitting at a desk with his eyes closed and his hands on his forehead.

Persistent depressive disorder (PDD), also known as dysthymia, is a chronic, low-grade form of depression. While not as intense as a major depressive disorder, PDD can leave you feeling unhappy for an indefinite period of time.

People suffering from PDD may no longer want to participate in activities or hobbies they used to love, spending their time alone at home or in bed instead. PDD can zap your productivity and intensify feelings of anxiety, which can affect your job and your home life. You withdraw from life, cut off friendships, and miss out on opportunities.

Common Symptoms of PDD

Symptoms of PDD can vary greatly depending on age, environment, or gender. Generally, women experience PDD more often than men. Depressed teens and adolescents often become angry and annoyed, rather than sad.

The most common symptoms of PDD include:

  • Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Constant feeling of despair or hopelessness
  • Lack of appetite or inability to stop overeating
  • Feeling tired all the time and sleeping more often
  • Avoiding social engagements
  • Decrease in energy or activity levels
  • Often feeling angry or irritated
  • Experiencing anxiety, low self-esteem, or self-criticism

PDD can also lead to suicidal thoughts or actions, especially if it worsens or develops into a more intense depression.

Treatments for Persistent Depressive Disorder

Although PDD is chronic, people don’t have to be miserable forever. If you find your symptoms have become unbearable, you can seek treatment in two ways: therapy and medication.

For many people, it helps to “talk it out” with a therapist. You can express your feelings and have a professional help you deal with feelings of anxiety, depression, inadequacy, or hopelessness. You can learn coping techniques from someone who understands what you’re going through.

When therapy isn’t enough, your therapist or primary care doctor might suggest medication. Generally, doctors prescribe selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like Prozac, Paxil, or Zoloft. Antidepressants might not cure PDD, but they can provide some relief from crushing symptoms for some people by balancing their moods. It’s important that you monitor your mental reaction to antidepressants, as they can increase thoughts of suicide in some people.

Whether you explore therapy or medication, you should also make an effort to take care of yourself. Eating right, exercising, and drinking plenty of water can elevate your mood considerably. Avoid drinking alcohol too much. Alcohol is a depressant and can make you feel worse.

When to Get Help

If you’ve been dealing with PDD for a long time, you may think it’s not even possible to feel better. But these feelings can often be controlled and reduced through a variety of treatment options. Consider contacting us for counseling for Persistent Depressive Disorder.

If your PDD has gotten worse, or you feel as if you don’t want to live anymore, you should call a medical professional or a suicide hotline right away. It’s imperative that you seek help immediately in these situations so you can avoid harming yourself.