Persistent Depressive Disorder


Medically reviewed by Carina Fung, PharmD, BCPPS

Persistent depressive disorder diagnosis

In order to diagnose12 persistent depressive disorder, your healthcare provider will likely use a few different exams and tests:

  • A physical exam: Your provider will ask about your overall health and may conduct testing—such as blood and urine tests—to rule out other health conditions that could be causing your given symptoms. If these tests don’t indicate the presence of an underlying health condition, it may indicate that a mental disorder is the cause of your symptoms.
  • Mental health evaluation: Your provider will ask about your thoughts, feelings, and symptoms and may administer a psychological screening questionnaire. It is crucial to be fully honest and forthright with your provider when they ask you these questions, as this will help them make the most informed diagnosis.

Your provider may also refer you to a mental health specialist, such as a psychiatrist. A specialist will likely use the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (_DSM-5, _published by the American Psychiatric Association) to determine whether you meet the criteria set for a diagnosis of persistent depressive disorder.

Some of the criteria13 needed for adults to be diagnosed with this disorder include a depressed mood (more often than not on most days) for at least two years, feelings of hopelessness, low energy, fatigue, and low self-esteem

For children or teens to be diagnosed with PDD, they must exhibit depressed behavior or irritability (a more common indicator of the condition in children than in adults) for most of the day14, every day, for at least one year.

Major depressive disorder vs. persistent depressive disorder

While persistent depressive disorder and major depressive disorder sound similar, there are a few key differences between the conditions.

People with major depressive disorder15, or major depression, have a fairly normal baseline mood but experience intermittent depressive episodes. These episodes may last for months and vary in intensity from mild to severe. PDD, on the other hand, is a chronic condition—it is ongoing and lasts for a longer period of time. This means that people with the disorder feel depressed more often than not.

Because of this, the criteria for diagnosing major depression state that symptoms must be present for at least two weeks, while those for PDD require symptoms to have been ongoing for at least two years.

That being said, there is considerable overlap between the symptoms of major depression and PDD. The difference between the two disorders’ symptoms lies in their severity and duration.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1–800–273–8255 or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.

You may also reach out to the Samaritans: Call or text (877) 870-HOPE (4673).

Disclaimer: The information on this site is generalized and is not medical advice. It is intended to supplement, not substitute for, the expertise and judgment of your healthcare professional. Always seek the advice of your healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard seeking advice or delay in seeking treatment because of something you have read on our site. RxSaver makes no warranty as to the accuracy, reliability or completeness of this information.

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