It’s completely natural to have days where you don’t feel your best. Social situations, relationships, diet, habits and more are all factors that influence how we feel and how we perceive ourselves and the world around us.

What differentiates a few bad days from a mental condition is how long you’ve been experiencing the symptoms. Typically if you’ve experienced depressive symptoms every day for a minimum of two weeks, you may have a form of depression.

Depression is an umbrella term used to describe different depressive conditions that fall under the category of mental health disorders which negatively impact how you feel, think and act. 

Two of the most common forms of depression are persistent depressive disorder and major depressive disorder. They are often mistaken for each other due to their similarities, but there are some differences between the two that keeps them distinct from one another.

In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at the differences between major depressive disorder and persistent depressive disorder, as well as break down how to tell the symptoms in yourself or a loved one so that you can know when to seek professional help.

Persistent depression vs major depressive disorder

What is the difference between major depressive disorder and persistent depression? Persistent depressive disorder (PDD) — formerly known as dysthymia — is a long-term depressive condition where symptoms continue for a minimum of two consecutive years. 

People struggling with PDD typically experience depressive symptoms for the majority of each day and for years. This can lead them to believe the level of sadness or numbness they’re experiencing is just who they are, instead of the (potentially temporary) mental health condition that it is.

Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a depressive condition that negatively impacts how a person lives their life by negatively affecting their emotions, thoughts and behavior. 

MDD is the most common form of depression and one of the most common mental health disorders in the United States according to a study by Medical News Today. It causes people to experience depressive symptoms that can last for weeks or months but will have a gap of at least two months in between each period.

Both are commonly referred to as “depression,” which causes many people to struggle to determine which condition they have and often mistake one disorder for the other.

Major depressive disorder symptoms

It can be challenging to distinguish MDD from PDD as they both share similar symptoms, but there are a few subtle distinctions.

Symptoms of MDD include:

  • Loss of interest or pleasure in once-enjoyed activities
  • Chronic tiredness, fatigue or low energy
  • Barely sleeping or constantly sleeping
  • Noticeable weight loss or weight gain
  • Difficulty concentrating, thinking or making decisions
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Suicidal thoughts, self-harming thoughts or suicide attempts

If you have MDD, you’ll have several of the above symptoms, often at least four or five that all last for at least two weeks.

Persistent depressive disorder symptoms

In addition to sharing the above symptoms with MDD, the symptoms of PDD can vary in consistency and intensity but will last consecutively for years.

Some of the symptoms of PDD include:

  • Irritability or excessive anger
  • Avoidance of social activities 
  • Frequently “living” in the past
  • Decreased activity and productivity
  • Sadness, emptiness, feeling down
  • The development of additional disorders

If you have PDD, you’ll have at least two of the above symptoms, a depressed mood and will have experienced these symptoms for a minimum of two years without much (if any) relief.

Best treatments for depression

An official depression diagnosis is going to come from having open discussions with a medical provider, as well as potentially blood or urine tests to rule out other causes.

There are several treatment options for major depressive disorder and persistent depressive disorder, but the best treatment option is going to be the one that’s best for you.

The most common treatments for these two disorders include psychotherapy, counseling, dramatic lifestyle changes (including diet, exercise, career, relationships) and sometimes the integration of medication-assisted treatment (MAT). MAT helps those experiencing heightened symptoms due to chemical or neurological imbalances.

Start your healing today

Silvermist Recovery is a premier treatment center that specializes in addiction and mental health treatments. Our teams are committed to helping clients tackle their behavioral health challenges and rebalance their lives around full-spectrum health, happiness and well-being.

To learn more about how we can help you or someone you love, send us a message or give us a call anytime at 724-268-4858.