Now and again, everyone can get a bit down. Life circumstances do not always go the way we want them to. Sometimes the car will break down unexpectedly, or we do not get the promotion we are seeking.
However, when sadness persists and does not go away easily, you may be experiencing signs of a clinical diagnosis called depression. Depression may be a part of a host of clinical disorders that a psychotherapist can diagnose and treat.
Clinical depression is characterized by deep feelings of sadness, a generally depressed mood, and a loss of interest in life activities lasting for a period of six months or longer. People with clinical depression symptoms should seek professional help.
Clinical depression is usually not just a result of poor life circumstances. Usually, the causes of clinical depression lie in the way your brain operates and requires medication for treatment.
Persistent Depressive Disorder and You
One of the more common diagnoses of depressive syndromes is persistent depressive disorder, or PDD. You might have heard about PDD already without realizing it. High-functioning depression is not a real condition, but rather a buzzword for persistent depressive disorder.
Unlike major depressive disorder (MDD), which has more severe symptoms, people with PDD are able to function through their depression even though their symptoms last longer than MDD.
To be diagnosed with PDD, your symptoms must persist for two years or longer. A psychiatrist or psychotherapist can make this determination.
Seven Symptoms of PDD to Watch For
Beyond persistently feeling a depressed mood, loss of interest in life activities, and symptoms that last for years, what does PDD look like? The answer is that there are a host of symptoms that may be present.
PDD looks different than MDD. People with PDD may not feel depressed all day, but a diagnosis requires that they exhibit symptoms of depression for most of the day. Depression may also manifest as insomnia, fatigue, low energy, and a hopeless outlook.
The presence of two or more of the following symptoms may be a sign of PDD:
- Persistent depressive symptoms are present for most of the previous two-year period and are not absent for more than two months at a time
- People with persistent depression may also experience episodes of mania, spikes in mood, feelings, or energy that interfere with their ability to perform routine activities or maintain relationships
- Those with PDD may experience a lower than average appetite or may overeat
- People who are consistently depressed may have problems concentrating, even on easy tasks
- Individuals who are persistently depressed may have low self-esteem and a lack of self-worth, judging themselves harshly
- The patient is not a candidate for cyclothymic disorder—a less severe form of bipolar disorders—and the PDD patient candidate will not have met all of the criteria for this disease
- The patient also does not meet the criteria for any of the delusional or psychotic disorders, including those on the schizophrenia spectrum
Critical to the diagnosis of PDD is that the symptoms cannot be explained by another medical disorder or substance use. However, people with PDD are more likely to experience substance use disorder (SUD) as a comorbidity.
PDD: The Raw Numbers
Depression is very prevalent in the United States population. According to statistics compiled by the CDC, nearly ten percent of American adults over the age of 20 reported symptoms of depression in a two-week period.
In the same report, women were found to be far more likely than men to experience depression. Women were twice as likely to develop depression, and that statistic remained consistent across all age groups.
Economic circumstances are a major factor in depression. Researchers found negative correlations between family income and the prevalence of depression. The more a family income increased, the less likely that family was to experience symptoms of depression.
Depression is not just a sadness you can get over. It is a serious medical condition that requires treatment. Nearly all people surveyed (80%) reported some problems fully functioning in their work, home, and social lives because of their symptoms.
Over the ten-year period of the study, the number of people who experienced depression remained largely unchanged. Depressive disorders are here to stay, but the good news is there is hope in treatment.
Women and Depression
Statistically, women are more likely to develop symptoms of a depressive disorder. There are unique pressures women face and adding depressive symptoms to those pressures can result in co-occurring disorders, such as SUD.
Women are more likely to use controlled substances to medicate their symptoms, but when we treat the underlying cause of persistent depression with medical and psychotherapeutic interventions, the risk of SUD goes down.
Treating PDD is important in eliminating the risk of SUD. SUD can further exacerbate depressive symptoms. When a PDD patient has self-medicated, dual-diagnosis treatment allows medical and care team professionals to address symptoms of both disorders and treat them simultaneously.
Hope in the Face of Depression
Depression can feel like a smothering blanket. Being depressed is not your fault. Persistent depression that you experience during PDD is a medical condition in which neurotransmitters–the messenger cells in the brain–are not firing correctly.
Medications and therapy can help. Depression medications target the way neurotransmitters in the brain fire and are received. Medication is combined with talk therapy, a common therapeutic practice in which you sit and talk to a psychotherapist who listens closely to you.
With medical intervention and psychotherapy, hope in the face of depression is not only possible, it is a promise for a brighter tomorrow.
With all of the buzzwords out there, knowing whether there is something wrong can be confusing. Whether it is called high-functioning depression or something else, persistent depressive disorder is a very real mental illness. If you have experienced symptoms of persistent depression for a period of two or more years and have also experienced two or more of the other symptoms listed in this article, don’t be afraid to reach out and contact the professional care team at Spero Recovery. Depression can impact every part of your life, from your job to your home, and even your recreational activities. Choose to live a happy and fulfilled life and get the treatment you need today. There is hope in recovery from depression. Call (303) 351-7888 today and speak to one of our caring representatives about a treatment plan that is right for you.