Persistent Depressive Disorder

Persistent depressive disorder, also known as dysthymia is a common and under-diagnosed condition characterized by an ongoing depression.  The depressive symptoms, however, are milder than a major depressive episode for those with other affective disorders. The diagnostic criteria for persistent depressive disorder are extensive, and can be read in it’s entirety here. A summary is:

  • Depressed mood for most of the day, more days than not, for at least two years in adults or one year in children and adolescents.
  • While depressed, the presence of two or more of: loss of appetite or overeating, insomnia or hypersomnia, low energy or fatigue, low self-esteem, poor concentration or difficulty making decisions, feelings of hopelessness
  • The symptoms cannot be better explained by another diagnosis
  • There is a significant disturbance of a key part of life (social, occupational, etc.)

“…the effects of 40 years of robbery on myself. I am a walking osmosis of the perpetrator and victim.”

The quote above is a brief example of the wonderfully detailed description of how persistent depressive disorder has wreaked havoc on one mans life.  He describes the perpetrator as his illness, and himself the victim.  I highly recommend reading what he wrote in it’s entirety (link with quote).

There are various treatments for persistent depressive disorder, which include medications (such as an SSRI), talk therapy (often CBT), and self care (such as exercise, practicing good sleep hygiene, avoiding alcohol and drugs, and/or practicing mindfulness).

Because persistent depressive disorder is ongoing and often under-diagnosed, it is important for people to report any possible symptoms to their doctor.  It is the doctor’s job to listen, and when warranted, diagnose and treat. It is the patients job to notice physical, cognitive, and emotional feelings that are unpleasant or unwanted, and to tell their doctor.  Only through good communication can a treatment plan be created with such an elusive disease.

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