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What Is The Difference Between Major Depressive Disorder And Depressive Disorder?

What Is The Difference Between Major Depressive Disorder And Depressive Disorder?

Major depressive disorder (MDD) and persistent depressive disorder (PDD) are mood disorders. Mood disorders, also known as affective disorders, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine “is a mental health class that health professionals use to broadly describe all types of depression and bipolar disorders.” Major depressive disorder and persistent depressive disorder are both forms of depression that have similar symptoms and treatments. The World Health Organization (WHO) explains that major depressive disorder is “characterized by persistent sadness and a lack of interest or pleasure in previously rewarding or enjoyable activities,” resulting in significant impairment in one’s daily life. Healthline explains persistent depressive disorder “is a chronic form of depression that’s less severe than MDD but lasts for years.” According to  Medical News Today, the primary difference between MDD and PDD involves the duration of symptoms. 


While there are a variety of overlapping symptoms associated with major depressive disorder and persistent depressive disorder, they differ in intensity and how long they last. Commonly exhibited symptoms that present with both MDD and PDD could include but are not limited to any combination of the following examples, provided by the Mayo Clinic:

  • Agitation
  • Irritability 
  • Random crying spells
  • Excessive feelings of guilt
  • Extreme self-criticism
  • Social isolation
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Overly sensitive to failures or rejection
  • Body aches
  • Lack of proper hygiene 
  • Low self-esteem/ low self-worth
  • Self-harm (e.g., excessive piercing, cutting, burning, etc.)
  • Risky behavior

To be diagnosed with major depressive disorder or persistent depressive disorder, a young person’s symptoms must fit the criteria outlined in the DSM-5. A teen with MDD must be experiencing five or more symptoms during the same 2-week period and at least one of the symptoms should be either (1) depressed mood or (2) loss of interest or pleasure. A diagnosis of PDD requires a young person to present with symptoms for at least two years. To be properly treated for a mood disorder, an adolescent must be clinically and accurately diagnosed.

For Information and Support

Every family in need of mental health treatment must select a program that will best suit the needs of their family. When one member of a family struggles, it impacts everyone in the family unit. To maximize the benefits of treatment we work closely with the entire family to ensure that everyone is receiving the support they need through these difficult times.

Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know needs mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person’s life in, long term. Pursuing support at the beginning of one’s journey can put the individual in the best position to learn how to manage themselves in a healthy way so they can go on to live happy and fulfilling lives.


We are available to answer any questions you may have regarding mental health treatment and our residential program, anytime. Contact us today using the form to the right.

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