Living with Persistent Depressive Disorder: A Guide for Patients and Families


Living with persistent depressive disorder can be difficult for both patients and their families. It is a chronic condition that requires ongoing treatment and management. In this guide, we will provide information on persistent depressive disorder, including its symptoms, treatment options, and ways to cope. We hope that this guide will be helpful for both patients and their loved ones.

What Is Persistent Depressive Disorder?

What is PDD

Persistent depressive disorder (PDD), also known as dysthymia, is a long-term form of depression. It is characterized by a depressed mood that lasts for at least two years. It is a chronic condition that can last a lifetime if left untreated.

PDD is less severe than major depression, but its symptoms can still be debilitating. It can cause problems with work, school, and relationships. People with PDD may also have other mental health disorders, such as anxiety or substance abuse.

How Is It Different From Major Depressive Disorder?

Some major differences between major depressive disorder and persistent depressive disorder are that:

  • Major depressive disorder is typically characterized by a single episode of depression, while PDD is characterized by multiple episodes.
  • The symptoms of major depression are more severe than those of PDD.
  • Major depressive disorder can be treated with medication and therapy, while PDD often requires a combination of treatment modalities.
  • Persistent depressive disorder is a chronic condition that can last a lifetime, while major depressive disorder is typically episodic.

Therefore, it is important to seek treatment if you are experiencing any symptoms of depression.


The causes of persistent depressive disorder are not fully understood, but it is thought to be caused by a combination of factors that contribute to it’s development over time.

Genetic Factor

There is evidence to suggest that PDD may be hereditary. If you have a family member with PDD, you may be at increased risk for the condition.

Brain Structure And Function

Studies have shown that there are differences in the brain structure and function of people with PDD. It is not clear if these differences are a cause or result of the condition.

History Of Abuse And Trauma

People with a history of abuse or trauma are at increased risk for developing PDD. It is thought that this may be due to the changes in brain structure and function that occur as a result of these experiences.

Environmental Factor


Certain environmental factors, such as stress or a lack of social support, may contribute to the development of PDD. It is thought that these factors may trigger the onset of the condition or worsen its symptoms.



The symptoms of persistent depressive disorder can vary in severity, but they must last for at least two years to be considered PDD. The most common symptoms include:

  • Depressed mood: This may be either a constant feeling of sadness or periods of sadness that last for more than two weeks.
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities: This may include activities that were once enjoyable, such as hobbies or time with friends and family.
  • Changes in appetite: This may be either an increase or decrease in appetite.
  • Sleep disturbances: This may include either insomnia or hypersomnia.
  • Feelings of hopelessness: This may make it difficult to see the positive side of things.
  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors: This is a serious symptom that requires immediate medical attention. Sufferer may use self-harm as a way to cope with these thoughts.
  • Fatigue or low energy: Always feeling tired and having little energy to do things. This makes it difficult to perform everyday tasks.
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt: This can lead to negative thoughts about oneself. Thinking that you are not good enough or that you do not deserve happiness can be very difficult to cope with. And you might feel guilty for things that are not your fault.
  • Difficulty concentrating: This may make it difficult to focus on work or yourself. It may result in less productivity and loss of job or school work.
  • Irritability: This may manifest as either angry outbursts or a general feeling of being on edge.

Persistent depressive disorder is a chronic condition that can last a lifetime, while major depressive disorder is typically episodic.


Persistent depressive disorder can have a significant impact on your life. For instance:

  • Work or School: PDD can make it difficult to concentrate and be productive at work or school. This may lead to job loss or poor grades.
  • Relationships: PDD can strain your relationships with family and friends. The symptoms of the condition can make you withdraw from social activities and make it difficult to connect with others.
  • Self-Care: The symptoms of PDD can make it difficult to take care of yourself. This may include neglecting your hygiene, not getting enough exercise, or not eating a healthy diet.
  • Self-Esteem: PDD can also take a toll on your self-esteem. The negative thoughts and feelings associated with the condition can make you feel worthless and hopeless.
  • Substance abuse: People with PDD are also at increased risk for substance abuse. This may be due to self-medicating or using substances as a way to cope with the symptoms of the condition.

Therefore, it is important to seek treatment if you are experiencing any symptoms of depression.


While there is no cure for persistent depressive disorder, there are treatments that can help improve your symptoms.

Self-Help Tips

Self-Help Tips

There are a number of things you can do to help manage your symptoms:

  • Get regular exercise: Exercise has been shown to improve mood and reduce stress.
  • Eat a healthy diet: Eating nutritious foods can help improve your energy levels and mood.
  • Get enough sleep: Sleep is essential for good mental health. Sleeping on time might help you feel less tired.
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs: Substance abuse can worsen the symptoms of PDD. You may get addicted to it.
  • Connect with others: Spending time with family and friends can help reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness.
  • Creative outlets: Doing things you enjoy, such as painting or writing, can help reduce stress and improve your mood.

A simple change in lifestyle can make a big difference in your condition and make it more manageable.


professional help

There are a number of treatments available that require the assistance of a professional. These are:

  • Psychotherapy: Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, is a treatment that involves talking to a therapist about your thoughts and feelings. This can help you understand your condition and find healthy ways to cope with your symptoms.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy: This type of therapy helps you identify negative thoughts and behaviors and replace them with more positive ones.
  • Interpersonal therapy: This therapy focuses on your relationships with others and can help improve communication skills.
  • Electroconvulsive therapy: This treatment is typically reserved for severe cases of depression that have not responded to other treatments. It involves passing electrical currents through the brain to trigger a seizure.
  • Family therapy: This therapy involves the entire family in treatment. It can help improve communication and understand the impact of PDD on your loved ones.

Treatment for persistent depressive disorder should be tailored to your individual needs. The goal of treatment is to relieve your symptoms and help you function better in your daily life.


Some of the commonly prescribed medications are:

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs): These are the most commonly prescribed type of antidepressant. They can help improve mood and reduce anxiety. These include, fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil), and sertraline (Zoloft).
  • Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs): These medications can help relieve pain and improve mood. These include, but are not limited to, duloxetine (Cymbalta) and venlafaxine (Effexor).
  • Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs): These medications can be effective in treating PDD, but they have more side effects than SSRIs and SNRIs. They include, but are not limited to, amitriptyline and imipramine (Tofranil).
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs): These are an older type of antidepressant that can be effective, but they have more side effects. For example, they can interact with certain foods and medications. They include, but are not limited to, phenelzine (Nardil) and tranylcypromine (Parnate).

Your doctor will work with you to find the right medication or combination of medications for your needs.

How To Help Someone Suffering?

How To Help Someone Suffering

If you know someone who is suffering from PDD, there are a number of things you can do to help them:

  • Listen to them: Let them know that you are there for them and that they can talk to you about anything.
  • Encourage them to seek treatment: Help them find a mental health professional that they feel comfortable with.
  • Encourage them to stick to their treatment plan: Treatment can be difficult, but it is important to encourage them to stick with it.
  • Help them find support: There are a number of support groups available for people with PDD. You can help them find one that meets their needs.

Living with persistent depressive disorder can be difficult, but it can be managed with treatment and self-care. If you or someone you know is struggling with PDD, there is help available.


In conclusion, PDD is a serious condition that can be difficult to live with. It make sufferers feel helpless and worthless and affect their daily life. It makes living seem like a job. PDD is chronic, so even when sufferers are feeling good, they know the symptoms can come back.

If you are struggling with depression, know that you are not alone. Help is available, and there are people who care about you. Seek professional help if your symptoms are severe or if they are impacting your ability to function in daily life. Depression is a serious condition, but it is treatable. With the right support, you can start to feel better.

For more tips and guidance, you can reach out to Therapy Mantra. The team of professional counselors is more than happy to help you in your journey to recovery. Contact us today to learn more about our services. You can also book an online therapy session or download our free Android or iOS app.