Persistent Depressive Disorder, Dysthymia – Symptoms, Causes, Treatment 

As the name implies when depression persists over a period of time, then it becomes dysthymia. Today, we’ll discuss persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia); its symptoms, causes, and treatment.

What is Persistent Depressive Disorder? 

The persistent depressive disorder also goes by the name dysthymia, which is a form of chronic depression; it is continuous and long-term. You would feel inadequate; have a lower level of self-esteem, have low productivity, hopelessness feelings, and lose interest in the daily routine activities. Such feelings tend to last for a long time and disturb your daily activities, work, school, and relationships.

Dysthymia makes it very difficult for you to enjoy the happy moments in life. Others would describe you as having a gloomy personality, and complain about you as someone incapable of doing fun activities. Dysthymia is not severe depression like MDD, and its episode ranges from mild, moderate, to severe.

Dysthymia has a chronic nature, and that’s why it’s difficult and challenging to deal with its symptoms.

Symptoms of Persistent Depressive Disorder 

The symptoms of dysthymia come and go and keep on changing, and their intensity varies over time. Typically, its symptoms don’t go away for more than 2 months in one episode. You would experience a major episode of depression before or during the episode of dysthymia, and it is called double depression. Some of the main symptoms of persistent depressive disorder are as follows;

  • Sleeping issues
  • Overeating and poor appetite
  • Worrisome and guilty feelings about the past
  • Avoiding social gatherings and activities
  • Lower productivity, effectiveness, and activity
  • Excessive anger and irritability
  • Trouble in decision making and focusing on one thing
  • Incapable feelings, self-criticism, and having low self-esteem
  • Lack of energy and tiredness
  • Hopelessness
  • Feeling down, empty, and sadness
  • Losing interest in routine activities

The symptoms of dysthymia among children would comprise irritability and depressed mood.

Causes of Persistent Depressive Disorder 

Researchers don’t know the exact and precise cause of the persistent depressive disorder. Some of the main causes of dysthymia are as follows;

Biological Differences

Researchers say that people with dysthymia/PDD conditions might have physical changes in their brains. Those physical differences are uncertain, but eventually, they would allow you to pinpoint other causes.

Brain Chemistry

Neurotransmitters are the brain chemical that the brain produces naturally, and they play a significant role in developing depression. Studies have shown that changes in the effects and function of those neurotransmitters and how they get in contact with the neurocircuit play a significant role in stabilizing mood, depression, and treatment.

Inherited Traits

Dysthymia/PDD is common among those people that have got a blood relation with a person in a similar condition. Researchers are working on finding out the exact genes that play a part in developing depression.

Life Events

Any major traumatic life event could trigger dysthymia/PDD and a high level of stress in your life like financial problems or the death of a closed person.

Diagnosis of Dysthymia

Your doctor would conduct a thorough physical examination and ask for medical tests in order to rule out other medical conditions that are causing the symptoms. If you think that you have dysthymia, then you should consult with professional psychologists.

Adults exhibit the symptoms of dysthymia/PDD every day for two years. Teens and children exhibit the symptoms of irritability and depressed mood every day for the whole year. Your doctor would ask you questions in order to know your mental and emotional state.

Treatment of Persistent Depressive Disorder 

Some of the main treatment plans for persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia) are as follows;


Your doctor would prescribe you any of the following antidepressants for dysthymia/PDD depending on your condition are as follows;

  • SSRIs like Sertraline (Zoloft) or Fluoxetine (Prozac)
  • TCAs (tricyclic antidepressants) like Amoxapine (Asendin) or Amitriptyline (Elavil)
  • SNRIs like Duloxetine (Cymbalta) or Desvenlafaxine (Pristiq)

You have to try out different types of medicines in various dosages to find the best match for you. The medicines would take a few weeks to show their full effect, and you have to remain patient in the meantime. Your doctor keeps on changing the dosage. Therefore, you should discuss things with your doctor before changing the medicine or dosage.


The most effective treatment plan for dysthymia/PDD is when you integrate medication with psychotherapy. Doctors usually recommend CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy). However, the focus of CBT is on your behavior and actions relevant to your thoughts and emotions. CBT makes you focus on the triggering thoughts that are causing depression. When you discuss it with your therapist, then s/he would guide you on the safe way to deal with PDD or dysthymia.

You should keep in mind the following things while working with the therapist;

  • Setting realist goals
  • Regaining control over your life and a sense of satisfaction
  • Replacing negative thoughts with positive ones
  • Recognize triggering emotions, behaviors, and thoughts
  • Adjusting to the crisis and challenges of life
  • Deal with emotions
  • Sharing your feelings and thoughts in a healthier way

Conclusion: Persistent Depressive Disorder/Dysthymia – Symptoms, Causes, Treatment 

After an in-depth study of persistent depressive disorder/dysthymia, its symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment; we have realized that dysthymia has a bad impact on your life. If you’re experiencing the symptoms of PDD, then you should consult with the therapist in your area and work on the treatment plan.