Ultimate Guide On Teen Persistent Depressive Disorder - Teen PDD

Table of Contents

This Article guides on the following:

  • What Teen Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD) is
  • The symptoms of teen PDD
  • The causes of PDD
  • Treatment options for PDD
  • Strategies parents can use to help teenagers with PDD

A teenager’s life is a period filled with excitement and occasional mood shifts, but teenagers grappling with persistent depressive disorder (PDD) are always in a sad, depressed mood for a long time. As a concerned parent, it’s natural to feel helpless and overwhelmed when faced with your child’s emotional struggles; we all want the best for our children.

We understand the challenges of raising such a teen, and in this article, we will delve more into the topic of teen persistent depressive disorder to give you a better understanding of the condition. We will help you identify the early symptoms of PDD and, most importantly, provide effective treatment strategies to help your teen regain their radiant, contagious smile.

Definition of Teen Persistent Depressive Disorder (TPDD)

Persistent depressive disorder is a long-term type of depression. A teenager with PDD has all the symptoms of depression, but they typically last longer than a year. They constantly have feelings of sadness and hopelessness that may interfere with their daily lives.

Over the years, depression has been on the rise, as indicated by various research and surveys. A study in 2019 showed an increase in the prevalence of depression among adolescents aged 12-17. The rate increased from 8.1% in 2009 to 15.8% in 2019, and girls were most affected. The drastic increase in depression is attributed to many factors, and one of the main reasons is the increase in the use of social media. Girls are also most likely to be impacted by social media, explaining why the rate of depression is more than that of boys. For further understanding, you can refer to the guide on how social media affects teenagers.

All these statistics paint a picture that most parents are worried about, making it necessary for parents to be aware of the early signs of persistent depressive disorder. Early detection of PDD will increase the chances of successful treatment.

Symptoms of Teen Persistent Depressive Disorder

Teenagers may show signs of persistent depressive disorder, which may be emotional, physical, or behavioral. Understanding these signs is vital for parents to effectively identify and support their struggling teenagers.

Emotional Symptoms

Emotional symptoms include:

  • Sadness: Teenagers struggling with PDD often experience persistent sadness that lasts for a long period, even when there is no apparent reason for being sad.
  • Hopelessness: Feelings of hopelessness usually cloud their thoughts, making them despaired. They have no sense of optimism in the present or the future.
  • Feelings of worthlessness: Teenagers with PDD have low self-esteem, making them feel they have no value in this world.

Physical Symptoms

PDD also has several physical symptoms; parents should beware of the following.

  • Fatigue: Teenagers with PDD lack energy and usually feel tired, even after enough rest.
  • Changes in appetite: They may have a decreased appetite, leading to weight loss. The opposite may also occur, where they may experience an increased appetite, leading to weight gain. This contributes to changes in their physical appearance, leading to depression and low self-esteem in teenagers.
  • Sleep disturbances: They may struggle with falling asleep or sleeping too much, affecting their sleeping patterns. This, in turn, causes fatigue and irritability.

Behavioral Symptoms

Behavioral symptoms are changes that are seen in their normal behavior and may include:

  • Social withdrawal: Teenagers with PDD often exhibit patterns of behavior that align with the concept of ‘teenage isolation.’ They distance themselves from friends, family, and activities they once enjoyed, tending to withdraw from social interactions and prefer spending time alone.
  • Self-harm behaviors: In severe situations, teenagers may harm themselves through cutting, scratching, burning, or other self-harm acts.
  • Substance abuse: Teenagers with PDD may start using drugs and alcohol to distract them from negative thoughts and feelings.

Causes of Teen Persistent Depressive Disorder

PDD’s exact cause is unknown, but certain factors may contribute to the development of this condition. The factors are explained as follows.

Genetic Factors

PDD may be a result of genetic factors that a teenager may inherit. Scientists believe that certain genes may cause a person to be more likely to have depression. If a close blood relative has been diagnosed with depression, parents should also monitor their teenager’s behavior to know if they are suffering from the same condition.

Brain Chemistry

Changes in neurotransmitters in the brain may cause teenager depression. Examples of neurotransmitters include dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, and cortisol.

In normal people, these neurotransmitters are produced in healthy amounts, but their production may be imbalanced for people with PDD. Each neurotransmitter has unique functions. For example, serotonin regulates emotions and sleep.

Teenagers with PDD have low serotonin levels, leading to sadness, low moods, and irritability. Cortisol (also known as the stress hormone) is released in response to stress, and imbalanced cortisol levels can lead to increased stress.

Risk Factors for Teen Persistent Depressive Disorder

PDD can affect all teenagers regardless of sex, gender, age, race, or ethnicity. But, certain factors predispose some teenagers to higher risks of developing PDD. The factors may be related to the causes, and they include:

  • A family history of persistent depressive disorder
  • Drugs and substance abuse
  • Chronic illnesses like diabetes and cancer
  • Co-occurring mental health conditions like anxiety and bipolar disorder
  • Previous teen ptsd events like the loss of a loved one
  • Negative personality traits like low self-esteem

Diagnosis of Teen Persistent Depressive Disorder

Early diagnosis of PDD is the most important step in finding solutions for your teenager. The earlier it is detected, the earlier the treatment can begin to manage any other complications that may arise.

Qualified professionals usually make the diagnosis, and the diagnosis methods include:

  • Physical examination: PDD may be caused by physical complications, so the medical professional may do a physical exam to determine what might be causing the depression.
  • Lab tests: Medical professionals may conduct lab tests by taking blood samples to rule out medical conditions that may cause PDD. PDD may be caused by hormonal imbalances, and lab tests can help identify such issues and tailor individualized treatment.
  • Psychological evaluation: Mental health professionals may conduct a psychological evaluation to determine whether other mental conditions may contribute to PDD. This may be through clinical interviews where the professional asks questions to teenagers about their thoughts and feelings.

Treatment for Teen Persistent Depressive Disorder

Teenage PDD is a worry for all parents with such teenagers, but the good news is that, like most mental health conditions, it is treatable. Parents need to consult mental health professionals as soon as they notice the early signs to make an effective intervention.

Key Healthcare is a premier teen treatment center that helps teenagers overcome mental, emotional, and behavioral issues. One of the key programs offered is the Teen Residential Treatment program, which helps teenagers with serious mental health conditions like PDD. It is an intensive 40-60 day program where teenagers undergo inpatient treatment. Highly trained professionals are available round-the-clock to ensure each teenager gets the best-individualized treatment.

The treatment center utilizes evidence-based modalities for treatment, like acceptance and commitment therapy for teens (ACT) and comprehensive DBT for teens, to help teens overcome their challenges and provides a safe and supportive environment for them to heal and recover. If you are a concerned parent, you can visit Keyhealthcare.com or call (800) 421-4364 to get more information on how to help resolve PDD issues for your teen.

The treatment options for PDD include medications, psychotherapy, and alternative therapies.

PDD treatment depends on factors like:

  • The severity of the condition teenager’s condition
  • The teenager’s ability to tolerate the medicine
  • Other emotional issues that the teen may have
  • Other medical conditions or co-occurring illnesses the teen has
  • Other medication the teen is taking
  • Previous treatment methods
  • Treatment options preferred by their parents


The main medications used in PDD are antidepressants, including:

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)

Examples of SSRIs include fluoxetine (Prozac) and sertraline (Zoloft). SSRIs are the most preferred antidepressants because they are generally more effective and have fewer side effects. They help reduce symptoms of PDD by increasing serotonin levels in the brain.

Serotonin is one of the brain’s most crucial neurotransmitters. It is commonly known as the “feel-good hormone” because it relaxes a person. PDD is linked to reducing serotonin levels in the brain, causing sadness and depressed mood. SSRIs reduce the rate at which serotonin is absorbed into the bloodstream. By reducing the absorption, serotonin levels remain high in the brain, helping relieve PDD symptoms.

Tricyclic Antidepressants

Tricyclic antidepressants are the early forms of antidepressants introduced in the early 1950s but have still proved effective. They are usually prescribed after other medications have failed to treat the symptoms. The most popular tricyclic antidepressants are amitriptyline (Elavil) and amoxapine (Asendin).

Tricyclic antidepressants reduce PDD by making serotonin and norepinephrine more available in the brain. This improves a teen’s mood.

Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs)

SNRIs reduce PDD symptoms by increasing norepinephrine and serotonin levels in the brain. Norepinephrine is a neurotransmitter associated with alertness and energy, while serotonin alleviates moods. SNRIs keep norepinephrine and serotonin levels high by preventing them from returning to the cells producing them.

Examples of SNRIs are desvenlafaxine (Pristiq) and duloxetine (Cymbalta).


Psychotherapy, sometimes called talk therapy, is an evidence-based form of therapy involving conversations with a mental health professional like a psychotherapist, psychiatrist, therapist, or counselor. It is a safe space for teenagers to discuss their experiences and for professionals to get to know them.

Psychotherapies may be individual or teen group therapy. Teenagers in residential treatment centers get both group and teen individual therapy, whereby the group comprises teenagers with common experiences. Group settings enable them to learn from the experiences of others and create a community that supports each other.

Teen family therapy is also commonly utilized, especially where family dynamics may cause PDD. Family therapy facilitates communication among family members and teaches strategies and skills for helping a teenager struggling with PDD.

Psychotherapists utilize various techniques, as discussed below.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for teens is designed to help people recognize negative thought patterns causing depression. By gaining a better understanding of these negative thought patterns, they can replace them with positive ones and learn skills to cope with difficult situations. It is a collaborative session that requires the input of both the teen and the therapist.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

This evidence-based therapy is almost similar to CBT but is specially made for people with intense emotions. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy helps teenagers suffering from PDD to accept the realities of their lives and helps them change unhealthy behaviors. It is very effective for people who have difficulty controlling their emotions.

Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)

IPT helps teenagers resolve underlying personal issues that may be contributing to PDD. The personal issues may be related to sudden changes in life, like relocating, losing a loved one, or strained relationships with friends and family. IPT aims to equip teenagers with skills for coping with unresolved issues and resolving conflicts.

Alternative Therapies

Alternative therapies are those used instead of evidence-based therapies. They are not considered the standard treatment for a particular condition but may help reduce the symptoms of the condition. Alternative therapies include mindfulness-based intervention and art therapy.

Mindfulness-Based Intervention

Mindfulness is a concept that utilizes mental focus that helps people appreciate the present and learn to live in the moment. Acceptance and objectivity are cross-cutting themes of mindfulness-based intervention that help teenagers replace negative, unrealistic thoughts with positive, attainable ones. It also teaches them how to control their emotions, helping them reduce and manage stress. Meditation is a common mindfulness practice that can help relieve stress.

Art Therapy

Art is also a form of therapy that helps teenagers process their emotions. Art therapists use art to understand teenagers’ emotional responses and guide them on healthy ways of processing their emotions. Art gives teenagers a new perspective on their emotions, which can help them understand and respond better to situations.

Self-Help and Coping Strategies for Teen Persistent Depressive Disorder

A combination of medication, psychotherapy, and self-help techniques is best for treating PDD. Self-help and coping strategies are lifestyle changes that can be incorporated into a teenager’s life to help reduce the symptoms of PDD. The strategies also help teenagers develop coping skills to prevent future depressive symptoms.

Developing a Support System

Encourage your teen to develop a strong support system of close friends and supportive family members. A support system offers encouragement and validation during tough moments. A listening ear can help the teen vent all pent-up emotions and relieve stress.

Encouraging Self-care Practices

Self-care practices are activities that help keep you fit physically, mentally, and emotionally. Exercises, healthy nutrition, and quality sleep are good self-care practices that can reduce symptoms of PDD. Exercise keeps teenagers active and releases feel-good hormones like serotonin, helping improve moods. Physical activities like dancing, skateboarding, and participating in sports can increase energy levels and distract from stress. Parents should also encourage and prepare a balanced diet to promote healthy nutrition.

Relaxation Techniques

Teach your teen relaxation techniques to help reduce stress. The techniques include breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, and mindfulness practices like meditation.

Positive Self-talk

One of the characteristics of a teen struggling with PDD is low self-esteem. Encourage your teen to become aware of negative thought patterns and replace them with positive, realistic thoughts. Help them reframe negative thoughts and replace them with more empowering and compassionate thoughts. This will help them to be more optimistic about life.

Setting Realistic Goals

Assist your teen in setting realistic and achievable short-term and long-term goals. The goals may be in any aspect of their life, including social, physical health, or academic goals. Achievable goals will motivate them to put in more effort, and achieving them gives them a sense of satisfaction.

Parental Strategies for Dealing with Teen Persistent Depressive Disorder

Parents play a central role in their teenager’s life, and the following strategies can help you deal with your teenager’s persistent depressive disorder.

  • Educating yourself about the condition: Take time to learn about teen PDD, its symptoms, and treatment options. Understanding the condition will help you intervene quickly and help your teenager recover.
  • Foster open communication: Creating a safe space for your teen will help them easily communicate about the issues they might be having. A problem shared is a problem half solved.
  • Validate their feelings: Let your teen know that their feelings are valid and that you understand the challenges they are facing.
  • Be patient and understanding: PDD is a complex condition that requires time and patience. Show love and support even when the condition is not improving.
  • Seek professional help: Consult a qualified mental health practitioner who can help with diagnosis and prescribing the best treatment option.
  • Take care of yourself: Taking care of a teen suffering from PPD can be emotionally draining. Prioritize your well-being and take time to do things that you love. Consider joining a support group of parents having the same problem with their teenagers.


The treatment journey for PDD is filled with obstacles, disappointments, and despair. As we conclude, remember there is always hope, no matter how bad the situation seems. The most important step is recognizing the signs early enough to get help as soon as possible. Reach out to qualified mental health professionals, fellow parents, and supportive family members to help you throughout the journey. By doing so, we can help our teenagers resolve their struggles and live happy, fulfilling lives with patience and dedication.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What should I do if my teen’s symptoms persist despite treatment for persistent depressive disorder?

If symptoms persist, the first thing to do should be to reach out to the professional handling treatment and inform them about the lack of improvement in the symptoms. They can re-evaluate the treatment to see if something needs to be changed. If this does not help, consider seeking a second opinion from another mental health professional.

A new perspective from another expert may bring to light some contributing factors that may not have been properly considered during the initial treatment. If this still does not help, continue offering support to your teen and encourage them that everything will be okay.

Reach out to a support group to help you through this situation because it can be draining and also affect your mental health.

What is the role of family therapy in treating Teen PDD?

Family therapy helps consider family dynamics that may be contributing to PDD. It helps resolve the underlying issues, teaches family members how to cope with the situation, and supports the teen throughout the journey. It also facilitates open communication with family members, which can help improve family relationships.

How can parents help their teenagers adhere to medication regimens?

Parents can help teenagers stick to medication by setting a daily routine to help them take it. Check on them regularly and remind them to take their medications. Teenagers may also be reluctant to take medications because of accompanying side effects, so you should consult the healthcare service provider to know how to reduce the side effects.

Can TPDD be cured or only managed?

There is currently no known cure for TPDD. Treatment is different from cure. Treatment involves controlling and lessening the symptoms, while a cure completely solves a health problem, and it’s not expected to come back. PDD treatment options like psychotherapy and medication focus on reducing symptoms and improving the overall quality of life.

Can psychotherapy be effective for Teen PDD without medication?

Yes. Psychotherapy can be very effective even without medication. Cognitive-behavioral therapy and dialectical behavioral therapy help teenagers develop healthy coping skills and replace negative thought patterns, which helps manage persistent depressive disorder.

Are there any side effects of medications used to treat Teen PDD?

Medications used to treat PDD can have side effects that may vary from one person to another, and some teenagers may also never experience the side effects. Common side effects include nausea, headaches, change in appetite, gastrointestinal issues, and interrupted sleeping patterns. It is crucial to consult a qualified health practitioner to manage the symptoms if they persist.

Can depression in teenagers lead to other mental health problems?

Depression can contribute to and co-exist with other mental health problems like anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, suicide ideation, and teen substance abuse. It is vital to seek professional help to treat and manage depression to avoid other complications.

How long does treatment for Teen PDD usually last?

The treatment duration depends on specific circumstances. It generally takes a long period to treat PDD because the symptoms usually last for at least a year. The treatment options also determine how long the treatment will last.

How is TPDD different from other types of depression in teenagers?

Teen persistent depressive disorder differs from other types of depression because it has long-lasting symptoms lasting at least 1-2 years. Other types of depression, like major depressive disorder (MDD), involve episodic periods of depressive symptoms that can last for weeks or months.

TPDD is considered a mild form of depression because the symptoms are less severe, while other types of depression, such as MDD, are characterized by more severe symptoms.