209 Depressive Personality Disorder

DSM-IV-TR Criteria

A pervasive pattern of depressive cognitions and behaviors beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

  1. usual mood is dominated by dejection, gloominess, cheerlessness, joylessness, unhappiness
  2. self-concept centers around beliefs of inadequacy, worthlessness, and low self-esteem
  3. is critical, blaming, and derogatory toward self
  4. is brooding and given to worry
  5. is negativistic, critical, and judgmental toward others
  6. is pessimistic
  7. is prone to feeling guilty or remorseful
  • Does not occur exclusively during Major Depressive Episodes and is not better accounted for by Dysthymic Disorder.

Associated Features

  • These individuals may be quiet, introverted, passive, and unassertive, preferring to follow others rather than taking the lead.
  • This pattern may occur with approximately equal frequency in females and males.
  • Individuals with this presentation may be predisposed to developing Dysthymic Disorder and possibly Major Depressive Disorder.
    • These conditions may exist on a spectrum, with depressive personality disorder being the early-onset, persistent, trait like variant of the Depressive Disorders.
    • Preliminary evidence suggests that depressive personality disorder may have an increased prevalence in family members of probands with Major Depressive Disorder.
    • Conversely, Major Depressive Disorder may occur with increased frequency in family members of probands with depressive personality disorder who do not themselves have Major Depressive Disorder.

Typical Beliefs

  • I am always disappointed with myself and cynical about others and the future.
  • I do not consider the spreading of good cheer to be among my responsibilities.
  • I am not eager for authority.
  • I expect those under me to take on a great deal of work.
  • When I am in charge, the work atmosphere need not be upbeat, personally encouraging, or even supportive.
  • I can be quite critical of those who work under me.
  • I never expect things to go right.
  • I don’t get much pleasure from anything outside of work.
  • I What’s the use of looking at life from the bright side.
  • Life is just work, pain, and loss.
  • I’ll believe it when I see it.
  • Life is depressing; I have a right to always be pessimistic.
  • I believe that my dark views of things is just being realistic.
  • Bad news is interesting and reassuring because it represents reality.
  • A person should remain faithful to their spouse, even if their spouse does not.
  • I expect worse from others.
  • I am very critical of my mate.
  • Other people expect too much of me.
  • Parents should teach their children not to expect too much from life.
  • Parents should inculcate the value of work; activities outside of homework and chores should be restricted.
  • I am severely limited as a person; if only I’d been born with a different temperament.
  • My life has been a series of failures and I am helpless in the face of forces beyond my control.
  • I should continually prepare for the worst.
  • I must keep my nose to the grindstone, adhere to routine, and remain un-distracted by impulses and passion.
  • I should always think everything through before acting, not take risks or challenge fate, and never try to escape into pleasure.
  • There is no hope, now or ever.

(Beck & Freeman, 1990)

In Terms of the 5-Factor Model of Personality

  • They Experience:
    • High neuroticism
    • Low extroversion
    • Low openness
    • Low agreeableness
    • High conscientiousness

(McCrae, 1994)

DSM-V Changes

(APA, 2010)

For More Information, Please Read:

  • Finnerty, T. (2009). Depressive personality disorder: Understanding current trends in research and practice. Columbus, OH: WorldWideMentalHealth.com
  • Phillips, K.A., Gunderson, J.D., Triebwasser, J., Kimble, C.R., Faedda, G., Lyoo, I.K., & Renn, J. (1998). Reliability and validity of depressive personality disorder. American Journal of Psychiatry, 155, 1044-1048.


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