Oct 17th 2023
People with persistent depressive disorder (PDD) – also known as dysthymia – experience long-term, ‘milder’ depressive symptoms compared to people diagnosed with major depressive disorder.
Although symptoms of persistent depressive disorder are considered to be less severe than those experiencing a major depressive episode, this condition can still have a serious impact on day-to-day functioning. Speak to a health professional if you’re worried you could be experiencing dysthymia.
Dysthymia is a chronic mood disorder that can affect thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Symptoms are persistent and last for years. Symptoms typically involve feeling apathetic or indifferent towards things previously enjoyed. To be diagnosed, symptoms of PDD need to have continued for two years or more in adults, or over a year in children and adolescents.  
People who experience dysthymia are more likely than the general population to also experience other mental health problems. Only about 25-30% of cases occur over a lifetime without any other psychiatric disorders.  Symptoms of PDD can also occur alongside symptoms of major depressive disorder – also known as ‘double depression’.
There is some overlap between the symptoms of dysthymia and major depressive disorder making the two conditions difficult to distinguish. Always speak to a healthcare professional rather than attempting to self-diagnose. 
Behavioral symptoms include:
Emotional symptoms include:
As with major depressive disorder, people with dysthymia are most likely to benefit from a combination of treatments, including psychiatric medication, talking therapy, and managing symptoms with self-care techniques. Self-care can include regular physical activity and eating a nutritious diet.
Treatments for PDD include:
As with all mental health problems, the sooner you ask for help, the better. Symptoms left untreated can worsen. If you’re worried about your mental health, consider speaking to someone you trust. Talking to a friend can be a good way to offload and get some social support. However, only a healthcare professional will be able to guide through treatment recommendations.
Mental, just like physical, health can fluctuate throughout our lives. We’re more likely to see our moods worsen during challenging life events such as bereavement, loss of a job, or relationship breakdown.
But if you’ve noticed changes to your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that last longer than two weeks, keep returning, and have a significant impact on your daily life and functioning, it’s best to speak to a healthcare expert. Treatment is available and recovery is possible.
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