Depressed personality: causes, symptoms and risk factors

Surely you have already thought that in life there are people who always tend to see things in a particularly negative way. They exude pessimism, sadness, despair and fatalism, and it seems almost impossible to make them see things a little less gloomy.

Come to the future in such a negative way, that they may even confide in you their pessimism and despair. And it seems like the positive things that happen to them in life don’t matter much, they always see something negative about it, like they’re wearing glasses with an exclusive filter to perceive clouds and sadness.

What about these types of people? Are they constantly suffering from major depression? Do they have persistent depressive disorder? Is Depression a Personality Trait?

In this article we will talk about Depressive Personality Disorder (PDD), which is not included in current classifications such as DSM-5 or ICD-10, but has been studied for many years by recognized authors like Kraepelin. (1896), Schneider (1923), Millon (1994) and Beck (1979).

Depressive personality disorder according to Théodore Millon

According to Théodore Millon, depressive personality disorders (what Millon calls the “abandonment pattern”) are encompassed by personalities having difficulty for the sake of it. According to Millon, depressed people have a number of personality traits in common, which can be manifested and described on different levels:

1. Behavioral level

Expressively dejected, appearance and condition convey irreparable helplessness. Interpersonnally helpless: Due to feelings of vulnerability and lack of protection, he will beg others to take care of him and protect him, fearing that he will be abandoned. He will seek or demand guarantees of affection, perseverance and devotion. They are usually introverts, so they can have a hard time finding a mate. When they find it, they become very addicted to it.

2. Phenomenological level

They are cognitively pessimistic: they show defeatist, fatalistic, and negative attitudes in almost everything. They always expect the worst. He interprets the facts of life in the most desolate way possible and feels hopeless because things will never get better in the future.

His self-image is “useless”. They consider themselves insignificant, useless, incompetent, worthless to themselves or to others.. They feel guilty for not having positive traits. Representations of abandoned objects: the first experiences of life are lived empty, without wealth, without joyful elements.

3. Intrapsychic level

  • Ascetic mechanism: He believes that he must do penance and deprive himself of the pleasures of life. He rejects jouissance and is also very self-critical, which can lead him to acts of self-destruction.

  • reduced organization: Impoverished adaptation methods.

4. Biophysical level

Melancholy mood: easy crying, sad, distressed, harsh, worried and prone to ruminating on ideas. They tend to feel cranky. They get angry with those who seek to exaggerate the good to the detriment of the realist.

Clinical characteristics according to the DSM-IV-TR (APA, 2000):

In 1994, the APA introduced the term “depressive personality disorder” into the DSM-IV in the appendix to the search criteria for personality disorders. According to the DSM-IV-TR (APA, 2000), the basic characteristics of depressive personality disorder (PDD) are as follows:

  • An ingrained model of depressive behaviors and cognitions.
  • Come into the future in a negative way, doubt that things will improve, and anticipate the worst. They show defeatist and fatalistic attitudes.
  • They are very serious, have no sense of humor, are not allowed to enjoy or relax on a daily basis.
  • As for his physical appearance, it often reflects his depressed mood. Collapsed posture, psychomotor retardation, and depressed facial expression are usually visible.
  • They seem sad, discouraged, disappointed and unhappy.
  • Their self-concept centers on beliefs of futility and inadequacy, and they have low self-esteem.
  • They are self-critical, they are often looked down upon.
  • They tend to ruminate and worry constantly.
  • They are pessimistic.
  • They feel helpless and helpless.
  • They criticize and judge others in a negative way.
  • They tend to feel guilt and remorse.
  • Passive, with little initiative and spontaneity.
  • They need the love and support of others.
  • Symptoms do not appear exclusively during major depressive episodes and are not best explained by the presence of a dysthymic disorder.

differential diagnosis

People with depression are at high risk for major depressive disorder or persistent depressive disorder (formerly known as “dysthymia”). It should be made clear that Persistent Depressive Disorder is transient, can be caused by a stressful stimulus, and can appear at any time, while Major Depressive Disorder is stably linked to the personality and interferes with most areas of the patient’s life. subject over time. In other words, the symptomatic condition is permanent and causes clinically significant discomfort or social or occupational impairment.

Much of the controversy surrounding the identification of depressive personality disorder as a separate category is the lack of utility in differentiating it from dysthymia. Outraged, it has been suggested that depressive personality disorder can be confused and overlapped with other personality disorders (Dependent, obsessive-compulsive and avoidant).

the causes

What Are the Causes of Depressive Personality Disorder? We will highlight the environmental factors that seem to be linked to this disorder, the biological influences not being entirely clear (Millon and Davis, 1998):

1. Emotional connection in childhood deficit

If the child does not experience unequivocal signs of acceptance and affection during childhood, feelings of emotional disaffection, insecurity and isolation can form.. These children do not have experiences of affection and closeness with their parents, who are often distant and indifferent. Children tend to give in to parental seeking emotional support, learn to make few demands on their environment, and develop feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.

2. Impotence

The child who in the future will be a depressed adult is humiliated in his childhood by his father, who will usually make him feel useless., Preventing you from developing feelings of competence and confidence. Children learn that they cannot function well on their own and they begin to believe that they will never have this ability, which is why they feel deeply desperate.

3. Reinforcement of sadness as an identity

Expressions of sadness and helplessness serve to get their attention, so they get others to give them affection and displays of affection that they desperately need.. This way, they get reinforcements for their depressive behavior. This can be a double-edged sword, because while it may work in the short term, in the long term what gets done is that your surroundings tire of your depressive behavior and you end up avoiding it.

4. Disparity between what is and what should have been

By constantly feeling unloved, useless and inappropriate, the person with depressive personality disorder finds differences between what they should have been. and what it really is. Many times this disparity results from unrealistic expectations placed by parents on the child. From this disparity arise feelings of emptiness and despair.

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