How Long Does Depression Last? Types of Depression Compared

How long does depression last? There are many factors that can affect how long your depression will persist. In this article, we will discuss depression and depressive episodes, and try to determine how long they last. Read on!
how long does depression last

Key Takeaways

  • There is no set duration of a depressive episode, but there are estimates for different types of depression.
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) usually lasts for months.
  • Postpartum depression (PPD) can last for years if untreated.
  • Clinical depression must persist at least two weeks to be diagnosed, and it could range from short-lived to lasting many years.
  • Depressive episodes in bipolar disorder typically last around 11 months.
  • With treatment, most people experience significant relief within a few weeks or months.

Conditions That Cause Depressive Episodes

Conditions That Cause Depressive Episodes

Major depressive disorder, also known as clinical depression, can have a profound effect on every aspect of a person’s life. A few symptoms associated with it are:

  • persistent feelings of sadness;
  • loss of interest in hobbies;
  • changes in sleep patterns, appetite, and energy levels;
  • feelings of isolation that can lead to drugs and alcohol abuse.

Depression can make it difficult to concentrate, remember details, and make decisions. It can also lead to physical problems such as headaches, digestive issues, and chronic pain. Clinical depression is more than just feeling sad for a few days. It’s a major health condition that requires treatment, and it’s diagnosed if a person has at least five depression symptoms.

Bipolar disorder is a different mental illness, characterized by extreme mood swings, including depressive episodes. These may come and go, in which case it’s harder to answer the question: “How long does depression last?”. Just like major depression, bipolar disorder requires personalized treatment.

How Long Does Depression Last, in General?

For some people, depression is a short-lived response to a stressful life event, such as the loss of a job or the death of a loved one. For others, it can last for years. For a psychiatrist to diagnose depression, it needs to last at least two weeks. But how long does depression last in the long run?

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), for one, typically starts in the fall and continues into the winter months. So, SAD usually lasts a few months. Postpartum depression (PPD) is a form of depression that can occur before or after childbirth. This mood disorder can last months or even years if untreated. 

And finally, clinical depression is a diagnosis made by a mental health professional after conducting a thorough evaluation. For some people, this type of depression may last a few weeks or months. Others struggle with it for years, or even their entire life.

How Long Do Depressive Episodes Last in Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is characterized by alternating periods of mania and depression. While the length of these episodes can vary from person to person, research suggests that depression may last longer than mania. Based on a few studies, the average length of a depressive episode was found to be around 15.8 weeks, while the average length of a manic episode was only 13.3 weeks. Mixed episodes were also reported, with the average length of 15.5 weeks.

Manic episodes are often followed by a period of “depression resistance,” during which the individual is less likely to experience a full-blown depressive episode. Over time, this resistance may wane, leading to longer and more severe episodes of depression. While the length of bipolar disorder-related depressive episodes can vary, note that they may last for several months or more.

Does Depression Last Longer Without Treatment? 

Left untreated, depression can persist for weeks, months, or even years. However, this does not mean that depression always lasts longer without treatment. The length of the illness may also depend on the depression symptoms.

In many cases, people who seek treatment for depression find that their symptoms improve within a few weeks or months. With the right combination of medication and psychotherapy, most people with depression can experience significant symptom relief and improved functioning. While there is no guarantee that treatment will work for everyone, it is often the best option for those struggling with this serious condition.

Can Depression Come and Go?

When answering: “How long does depression last?” it’s also crucial to mention that depression may sometimes come and go. Many people experience episodes of depression in vastly different ways. For some, these episodes are recurrent, occurring several times throughout their lives. For others, depression may only happen once. Depression can also vary in severity, from mild to moderate to severe.

Can Depression Come and Go?

What Treatment Options Can Make Depression Go Away Faster?

While depression can be a debilitating condition, it is important to remember that it is also treatable. In many cases, antidepressant medication and cognitive behavioral therapy are effective in alleviating symptoms and helping people to live happy, productive lives. In addition, self-care practices such as exercise, relaxation techniques, and journaling can also help to lessen the symptoms of depression and make recovery more likely.

While everyone experiences sadness and low moods at times, these feelings usually go away after a short period of time. However, when someone is experiencing depression, these feelings do not go away and can even get worse over time. If you are experiencing recurrent episodes of depression, or if your symptoms are getting worse, it is important to seek professional help. How long does depression last? Now you know.

White Light – Relaxation Exercise 🧘

Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Feel the air entering and leaving your lungs. Let your body relax and release any tension. Imagine a bright, white light surrounding you and filling your body with warmth and calm.

Now, focus on your breathing and count each breath. As you inhale, count one. As you exhale, count two. Keep counting until you reach ten. Then, start over again. Allow your thoughts to drift away. Don’t judge or analyze them. Just let them go. If a negative thought arises, acknowledge it and let it pass.

Continue to focus on your breath and count each inhalation and exhalation. Feel the tension leaving your body as you relax into the meditation. When you’re ready, slowly open your eyes and take a few more deep breaths. Notice how your body feels. You can use this exercise whenever you need to relax and reduce stress.

FAQs About Depression and Time

FAQs About Depression and Time

Do You Ever Fully Get Rid of Depression?

Everyone experiences depression differently, but many have found lasting relief. With the right treatment plan, you can learn healthy coping strategies that will help you not only reduce your current depressive symptoms, but also prevent future episodes for long-term success. Although recovery is an ongoing process, don’t be discouraged if there are setbacks along the way – staying consistent with your program of care is key!

What Are the 3 Stages of Depression?

Depression can be divided into 3 stages: denial, diagnosis, and recovery. Many individuals are in denial of their own symptoms before seeking professional help. With proper diagnosis and a specialized treatment plan tailored to their needs, they recover – though it requires ongoing effort for lasting progress toward health and wellness.

Do People Go Back to Normal After Depression?

With treatment and self-care, you can find a healthy new normal for your life. Remain committed to your recovery plan and believe in yourself – no matter how difficult it may seem at times. Recovery is possible! Things may never be the way they used to be, but you can still find joy and meaning in life.

What Is Late Stage Depression?

Late life depression can manifest itself in more than just feeling down and blue. Seniors may experience a range of symptoms like physical discomfort, hallucinations, or increased anxiety instead, proving that age does not diminish the power of this condition’s effects.

What Are the Permanent Effects of Depression?

Depression increases the risk of diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. This is because depressed patients often have a dysregulated metabolism and immune system. The longer you go without treatment, the greater your chance of developing one or more of these chronic health problems.

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