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Depressive personality disorder is a psychiatric diagnosis that denotes a personality disorder with depressive features. It is a controversial disorder described in an appendix to the American Psychiatric Association's DSM-IV-TR as worthy of further study. It is not listed in the manual's personality disorder category, however one can make the diagnosis under Personality Disorder NOS (not otherwise specified). Depressive personality disorder may be best viewed as constructed of relatively stable, maladaptive personality characteristics which in less severe forms are also referred to as cognitive vulnerabilities to depression. When the full disorder is not present but features of the disorder are, clinicians may wish to code "depressive traits" on Axis II.

Diagnostic criteria (DSM-IV-TR)[]

The DSM-IV-TR, a widely used manual for diagnosing mental disorders, defines Depressive personality disorder as:

A. 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
B. Does not occur exclusively during Major Depressive Episodes and is not better accounted for by Dysthymic Disorder.


  • American Psychiatric Association (2000). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR) (4th ed., text revision). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.
  • Finnerty, Todd (2009). Depressive Personality Disorder: Understanding Current Trends in Research and Practice. Columbus, OH:
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