Bee Healthy: Down in the dumps? Could be persistent depressive disorder

January 11, 2014 

Do you feel sad or down in the dumps? Have you lost interest in activities you once enjoyed or find it difficult to complete tasks of daily living? If you answered “yes,” you may have persistent depressive disorder, also known as dysthymia, which is a mild but long-term form of depression. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (fifth edition), symptoms for persistent depressive disorder include:

• Depressed mood for most of the day, for more days than not, for at least two years. In children and adolescents, the mood can be irritable and duration must be at least one year.

• While depressed, presence of two or more of the following:

1. Poor appetite or overeating.

2. Insomnia or hypersomnia.

3. Low energy or fatigue.

4. Low self-esteem.

5. Poor concentration or difficulty making decisions.

6. Feelings of hopelessness.

• During the two-year period (one year for children and adolescents) of the disturbance, the individual has never been without the symptoms listed above for more than two months at a time.

• There has never been a manic or hypomanic episode.

• The symptoms are not attributed to the psychological effects of a substance or other medical condition.

• The symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational or other important areas of functioning.

It is normal to feel sad from time to time, but if you find that your symptoms are affecting relationships, work and daily activities, it is important to seek help from a medical professional or mental health provider. Talk therapy (psychotherapy) and medication are helpful in managing symptoms, but a combination of both may be more effective.

For more information on persistent depressive disorder – including support groups, treatment and how to help a loved one – go to the National Alliance on Mental Illness website at or call NAMI California at (916) 567-0163.

Ely is a health information consultant at Sutter Gould Medical Foundation.

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