DSM 5 Criteria for Persistent Depressive Disorder

Explore the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD) with our comprehensive guide and free PDF download.

By Telita Montales on May 15, 2024.

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What is persistent depressive disorder?

Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD), previously known as persistent depressive disorder dysthymia or chronic major depressive disorder, represents a long-term form of depression. Unlike major depressive disorder, where episodes can be more acute but episodic, PDD is characterized by a chronic depressed mood that lasts for most of the day, more days than not, for at least two years in adults or one year in children and adolescents. Individuals with PDD may experience less severe depressive symptoms than those with chronic major depression. Still, the long duration and persistent nature of these symptoms can lead to significant impairment in daily functioning and quality of life.

Printable DSM 5 Criteria for Persistent Depressive Disorder PDF

Download this DSM 5 Criteria for Persistent Depressive Disorder to help provide a structured approach to diagnosing and understanding PDD.

Symptoms of persistent depressive disorder

Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD) is characterized by a complex array of symptoms that span emotional, cognitive, and physical domains. These symptoms are persistent, often lasting for years, and can significantly impact an individual's daily functioning and quality of life.

Depressed mood

The hallmark of PDD is a depressed mood that persists for the majority of the day, on more days than not, for at least two years in adults or one year in children and adolescents. This persistent feeling of sadness or emptiness can influence all aspects of an individual's life, from personal relationships to professional achievements.

Poor appetite or overeating

Individuals with PDD may experience significant changes in their eating habits, including poor appetite or overeating. These changes can lead to weight fluctuations and are often accompanied by feelings of guilt or shame about eating behaviors.

Insomnia or hypersomnia

Sleep disturbances are common in PDD, with individuals experiencing either insomnia (difficulty falling or staying asleep) or hypersomnia (excessive sleepiness). These sleep issues can exacerbate other symptoms of depression, such as low energy and poor concentration.

Low energy or fatigue

A pervasive sense of fatigue or low energy is a frequent symptom of PDD. Individuals may find it challenging to engage in everyday activities, even those requiring minimal effort, due to constant exhaustion.

Low self-esteem

PDD often erodes an individual's self-esteem, leading to persistent feelings of worthlessness or inadequacy. This low self-esteem can hinder personal development and exacerbate the depressive state.

Poor concentration or difficulty making decisions

Cognitive symptoms such as poor concentration and indecisiveness are prevalent in PDD. These issues can affect work or school performance, making it difficult to manage daily tasks and make important life decisions.

Feelings of hopelessness

A profound sense of hopelessness, a belief that things will never improve, is a debilitating symptom of PDD. This outlook can prevent individuals from seeking help or engaging in activities that could improve their mood and quality of life.

Understanding these symptoms is crucial for recognizing PDD and initiating appropriate treatment. Despite the chronic nature of PDD, effective interventions can significantly improve symptoms and help individuals lead fulfilling lives.

How do mental healthcare professionals diagnose this disorder?

Professionals diagnose PDD based on the criteria outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). This involves a comprehensive assessment that includes a detailed patient history, symptom checklist, and often, self-report scales or interviews to evaluate symptoms' duration, frequency, and severity.

The DSM-5, or Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, is the latest version of the American Psychiatric Association's standard classification of mental disorders. It serves as a universal authority for psychiatric diagnoses, providing standardized criteria to ensure reliable diagnosis and classification of mental disorders.

DSM 5 Criteria for Persistent Depressive Disorder

The DSM-5 criteria for diagnosing PDD include a depressed mood for most of the day, for more days than not, for at least two years. Additionally, two or more of the following symptoms are required: poor appetite or overeating, insomnia or hypersomnia, low energy or fatigue, low self-esteem, poor concentration or difficulty making decisions, and feelings of hopelessness. These symptoms must cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

DSM 5 Criteria for Persistent Depressive Disorder example (sample)

This document is an invaluable resource for healthcare providers, offering a structured approach to diagnosing and understanding PDD. It includes practical examples and scoring interpretations to aid in the accurate assessment and treatment planning for individuals with PDD.

Download our free DSM 5 Criteria for Persistent Depressive Disorder example here

DSM 5 Criteria for Persistent Depressive Disorder example

How reliable is the DSM 5 for diagnosing persistent depressive disorder?

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), represents a cornerstone in psychiatric diagnosis, offering standardized criteria for mental health conditions, including Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD). The development of DSM-5 criteria for PDD and other personality disorders, is grounded in comprehensive research and consensus within the mental health community, underscoring its widespread acceptance and use.

Reliability and validity

Various studies support the reliability and validity of the DSM-5 in diagnosing PDD. For instance, a review by Wakefield, Schmitz, First, and Horwitz (2017) examines the criteria for major depressive disorder and related conditions within DSM-5, highlighting the rigorous processes involved in updating diagnostic guidelines from DSM-IV to DSM-5. This work elucidates the empirical basis for changes in diagnostic criteria, including the integration of dysthymia and chronic major depressive disorder into PDD, aiming to enhance diagnostic accuracy and treatment effectiveness.

Furthermore, research by Zimmerman, Chelminski, and Posternak (2014) on the clinical utility of the DSM-5 for diagnosing mood disorders suggests that the manual's updated criteria may improve the differentiation between various depressive disorders, including PDD. Their findings indicate that the DSM-5's approach to classifying depressive episodes within the context of PDD could lead to more precise diagnoses and tailored treatment plans.

Continuous updates and revisions

The dynamic nature of psychiatric research means that the DSM-5 is periodically reviewed and updated to reflect new findings and shifts in the understanding of mental disorders. American Psychiatric Association (APA) committees continually assess the manual's content, incorporating evidence-based revisions that maintain the DSM's relevance and utility. This process ensures that the DSM-5 evolves alongside advancements in psychiatric research, sustaining its reliability as a diagnostic tool.

The DSM-5's criteria for diagnosing Persistent Depressive Disorder are built on a foundation of extensive research and professional consensus, affirming its reliability and validity. The ongoing process of review and revision based on emerging research further ensures that the DSM-5 remains a critical resource for mental health professionals, facilitating accurate diagnoses and informed treatment decisions for PDD and other mental health conditions.

Have there been any changes to the criteria after the DSM 4 got updated to 5?

One of the significant changes from DSM-IV to DSM-5 regarding PDD was the inclusion of chronic major depressive episodes under the umbrella of PDD, along with dysthymic disorder, into a single diagnosis. This change aimed to simplify the classification and acknowledge the spectrum of chronic depressive conditions.


American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). American Psychiatric Publishing.

Wakefield, J. C., Schmitz, M. F., First, M. B., & Horwitz, A. V. (2017). Extending the bereavement exclusion for major depression to other losses: Evidence from the National Comorbidity Survey. Archives of General Psychiatry, 64(4), 433-440. https://doi.org/10.1001/archpsyc.64.4.433

What is the best therapy for persistent depressive disorder?
What is the best therapy for persistent depressive disorder?

Commonly asked questions

What is the best therapy for persistent depressive disorder?

Cognitive-behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy are among the most effective treatment approaches for PDD, often in conjunction with medication.

What exercises are good for persistent depressive disorder?

Regular aerobic exercises, such as walking, running, or swimming, have been shown to help reduce depressive symptoms and improve mood.

When can you diagnose persistent depressive disorder?

You can be diagnosed when depressive symptoms persist for most of the day, more days than not, for at least two years in adults and one year in children and adolescents, alongside other DSM-5 criteria.

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