What Is Double Depression: Signs, Symptoms & Treatment

Last Update on October 18, 2022 : Published on November 11, 2020
double depression

Double depression, as the name suggests, is a psychiatric condition when two specific types of depression coexist and even overlap with each other. Double depression may become chronic, longstanding and can interfere in normal functioning of a human being. It is surprising to know that three to six percent of the population is at a high risk of double depression which increases the chance of suicidal behaviors.

Let’s understand the definition, symptoms and signs of double depression after which we will learn about the treatment.

Also Read: Mini-Guide: Interpersonal Psychotherapy for Depression

What Is Double Depression?

Double depression or dysthymic disorder is a complex mental condition where Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD) and Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) form a chain together. However, the person begins with low energy levels and depressed mood (PDD) for more than two years and later develops major depression superimposing over previous depression.

In some cases, mood disorder is present for more than 10 years before the major depressive disorder arrives and the person needs to look for treatment.

better help strip

Disclaimer: As BetterHelp Affiliate, We may receive compensation from BetterHelp or other sources if you purchase products or services through the links provided on this page.

The major components of double depression includes:

  • Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD) – Lower grade of depression continuing for years, also known as Dysthymia.
  • Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) – Severe and chronic forms of depression that doesn’t let a person feel normal again.

Understanding Components Of Double Depression

Let us figure out parts of double depression, their symptoms and criteria of diagnosis.

1. Persistent Depressive Disorder or Dysthymia

This chronic major depression is diagnosed differently in adults and children. For example, adults going through depression for at least 2 years can be diagnosed with PDD whereas children and teens could be facing depressed mood for at least 1 year.

Symptoms that occur during Dysthymia are:

However, this disorder may also include anxiety, major depression, substance use and personality disorder along the way.

2. Major Depressive Disorder

Major depressive disorder is an intense and severe form of depression which leaves a deep impact on the person’s behavior and thoughts. The person may not find himself in a usual condition and depressed mood tags along every step.

Symptoms that occur during Major Depressive Disorder are:

  • Loss of interest in all the activities that they used to enjoy before
  • Insomnia or change in sleeping schedule
  • Lack of energy in body and fatigue
  • Sense of guilt and worthlessness
  • Difficulty in concentration and taking decisions
  • Slow thinking process
  • Prolonged depressed mood
  • Suicidal thoughts or recurring thoughts of self-harm

If the person is dealing with at least five symptoms within a 2-week period, they may be diagnosed with MDD. However, its treatment is possible if it begins on time.

Features Of Double Depression

The Psychology professor, Thomas Joiner says, ‘Double depression is under-recognized and harder to treat than either dysthymia or major depression by themselves.

The research suggested that people who are dealing with double depression have higher levels of hopelessness and anxiousness than individual depression types. It is also hard to treat the patients as they feel that depression is a part of regular them and a treatment would not help.

If we look at important features of double depression, it includes:

  • Extreme sense of hopelessness that person feel suicide is a better option than living life
  • The person feels that life is not under his control
  • Persistent sadness and negativity could be felt
  • A sense of guilt, worthlessness and hopelessness is present
  • Chronic depression increases the chance of double depression
  • Trouble sleeping properly and conditions like insomnia occur
  • Anxiousness and irritability
  • Physical changes like body weight loss or gain, fatigue, digestive problems and loss of energy.
  • Speech and body movements become slow

Moreover, if someone is already going through diabetes, heart diseases and is relying on substance abuse, the condition may worsen and requires instant medical attention.

Individual with suicidal thoughts and self-harm conditions must immediately contact 911 or +1 800 273 8255(TALK) or Suicide prevention helpline (India)

Diagnosis & Treatment Of Double Depression

As we understood that double depression is a complex mix of different types of depression but can be treated at the same time, one should meet a physician for diagnosis. You can also drop us an email at info@calmsage.com to get you connected with experts.

You may be advised to undergo physical examination and lab tests to find physical and mental symptoms. As soon as it is done, a series of questions could be followed by the expert for final diagnosis of Persistent Depressive Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder or consequent double depression.

Treatment usually involves a combination of medications and psychotherapy which your doctor tailors according to the particular condition.

One needs to maintain patience during the treatment and voice the symptoms being experienced to their doctor, especially when there are any negative side effects. Cognitive behavioral therapy and Talk therapy is provided either through a group support or individual setting, as the therapist and patient finds suitable together.

Along with therapies, you would also be recommended some lifestyle changes like proper diet, exercise and meditation which must be adhered to for fast recovery.


One thing that you must remember is, ‘You are not alone’ and every possible person is standing next to you for help. Even Team Calm Sage! Depression is not your fault but can be treated, starting from now.

Take the smallest step today and drop a line at info@calmsage.com for happy beginnings. We are here to help!

About The Author

Akanksha Soni
Akanksha Soni

Akanksha is an active lifestyle blogger and writer at Calmsage. She has learnt various lessons on happiness and methods to fight depression through 'Gurus' as well as own experiences. An ardent practitioner of Yoga and meditation, she keeps traveling, writes and interacts with people to feel alive.


  1. mariya jonsan
    mariya jonsan

    Most of the during this period i also feel such symptoms but that time i dont have any solution , hope this will work for me thanks for sharing .

  2. Shank

    Does depression count as a disability?

  3. Chris Smith
    Chris Smith

    That was a new term for me, but after going through this article, I could actually relate the situation. Many thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

As Seen On