Persistent Depressive Disorder

Persistent Depressive Disorder

There are a number of different depressive disorders out there, but most of the attention is drawn to Major Depressive Disorder.

Major Depressive Disorder or MDD is a serious condition that affects millions of people, but this post is about a lesser-known disorder known as Persistent Depressive Disorder, also known as Dysthymia. 

Persistent Depressive Disorder has a lot of commonalities with MDD, as you might have guessed from the name alone. 

But, there are significant differences that attention should be drawn to. 

As always, these blogs are meant to be informative, NOT diagnostic.

If you seem to experience many of the symptoms discussed, talk to your doctor or mental health service provider to get more information and the help you need. 

Now, let's take a look at how Persistent Depressive Disorder is similar to and different from MDD.

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As mentioned above, you probably have guessed the major similarity between Persistent Depressive Disorder and MDD already, Depression. 

Like MDD, Persistent Depressive Disorder is characterized by having a depressed mood most of the day for more days than not.

What does a depressed mood look like? Here are some key signs of a depressed mood:

1) Poor appetite or overeating

2) Insomnia or Hypersomnia

3) Low energy or fatigue

4) Low self-esteem

5) Poor concentration

6) Feelings of hopelessness 

These symptoms are tell-tale signs of both MDD and Persistent Depressive Disorder. 

With so many commonalities it can be hard to assess what is really going on, and that's where the differences are crucial.


The biggest, but not the only difference, is longevity.

Just like the name states, Persistent Depressive Disorder is Persistent.

How persistent?

At least 2 Years!

That's a long time. 

MDD is marked by lasting at least 2 weeks, while Persistent Depressive Disorder doesn't meet the mark until the symptoms have been present for at least 2 years straight. 

Throughout that whole period, the person can't have gone more than 2 months without the symptoms mentioned above.

Another difference is the number of symptoms met.

For MDD that means 5 symptoms met consistently for at least 2 weeks; for Persistent Depressive Disorder, it's at least 2 symptoms for 2 years or more.

For that reason, some people consider Persistent Depressive Disorder to be considered a "high-functioning" MDD due to the fewer quantity of symptoms met at a time. 

However, there are many people who meet 5 or more symptoms for the entire duration. 

What You Can do About it

Some of you may be wondering what you can do about depression, or if there are different treatment approaches for different types of depression.

The good news is, whether you're working through MDD or Persistent Depressive Disorder, many of the treatment approaches are the same!

The root cause of depression is still unknown- there are biological components, social, and sometimes even genetic implications. 

However, there are some things that work to decrease depression across the board, here are a few:

1) Healthy Diet

2) Regular Exercise

3) Consistent sleep and wake-up times

4) Journaling

5) Goal setting

6) Play

7) Positive social circle

If you feel like you meet all these but still struggle with depression talk to a mental health care provider or your primary care doctor to find out all your options. 

This list is by no means exhaustive, but it should give you a great start!


Above we covered how MDD and Persistent Depressive Disorder share many of the same symptoms such as loss of appetite, lethargy, low self-esteem, and feelings of hopelessness.

We also learned that the biggest difference was that MDD requires 5 symptoms lasting at least 2 weeks while Persistent Depressive Disorder requires at least 2 symptoms for a minimum of 2 years!

Lastly, we covered a variety of approaches that help reduce depressive symptoms such as diet, exercise, social circle, goal setting, and consistent sleep schedules. 

If you feel that you meet the above criteria don't hesitate to reach out to a mental health service provider to see what help is available.

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November 26th, 2022

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