How Long Does Depression Last? What You Need To Know

Depression comes in many forms. It might be mild or severe, temporary or long-lasting. It can affect your relationships, work, and ability to cope with daily tasks.

Clinical depression is one of the more common and severe forms of depression and is more than simply feeling sad or down. It's a treatable medical condition, diagnosed by a doctor or mental health professional.

Clinical depression can cause painful physical and emotional symptoms. For some people, depression may fade away over time and not come back. However, it's uncommon for depression to get better on its own and without treatment, the symptoms of clinical depression can become more severe¹.

Many people also experience recurrent episodes of depression, meaning that if you've had a depressive episode, it's more likely that you'll experience another one in the future.

How long a depressive episode lasts will vary from person to person. For some people, the symptoms might only last a few weeks. For others, they may experience the symptoms of depression for years. In either case, treatment can help reduce the length and severity of depressive episodes and prevent them from appearing again.

Have you considered clinical trials for Depression?

We make it easy for you to participate in a clinical trial for Depression, and get access to the latest treatments not yet widely available - and be a part of finding a cure.

How do I know if I have clinical depression?

A doctor is required to diagnose clinical depression. You may be clinically depressed if you've experienced five or more depression symptoms every day for more than two weeks. These symptoms can include:

  • Feeling sad or empty

  • Decreased energy 

  • Trouble concentrating on tasks

  • Unexplained aches and pains

  • Loss of interest in hobbies, social engagements, or sex

  • Thinking about death or suicide.

If you are experiencing these symptoms, make an appointment with your healthcare provider. They can help you find the right diagnosis and treatment for your symptoms, which can reduce the length of a depressive episode.

How long does depression last?

It's very difficult to predict how long a depressive episode might last. Everyone's experience with depression is different. One study found² that the average duration of a major depressive episode in those with clinical depression was between six and ten months. Your symptoms might last longer or go away much sooner.

Factors like your personality, lifestyle, environment, family history, and support network can all have an impact on how long your depression might last. Unfortunately, there is no formula to predict when you might start feeling better.

Depression isn't permanent, though, even if it might feel that way when you are experiencing the symptoms. Depression is a treatable medical condition.

Some people find that with the right combination of therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes, they can eliminate their symptoms and prevent their depression from coming back.

What treatments make depression go away?

Clinical depression is a serious medical condition. It's unlikely that depression will go away on its own. Without treatment, the symptoms might become much worse.

Like many other medical conditions, early treatment can result in a better outcome. With treatment, your depression symptoms can become easier to manage. Treatment can also shorten the length of your depressive episodes, or even prevent them from happening again.

There are many treatment options for depression. None of these options are guaranteed to make depression go away, but they may help you find relief and build skills to manage symptoms more successfully. Some treatment options include:

Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most common type of therapy recommended for people with clinical depression. It can help you challenge negative thoughts associated with depression, and create new, healthy thought patterns and beliefs. CBT can also reduce the chances of experiencing another depressive episode³.

Medication

Finding the right medication, dosage, and combination can take time, but there are many options available for the treatment of depression. You can work with your health care provider or a psychiatrist on finding the medication that works best for you. 

Lifestyle changes

Making certain lifestyle changes could help alleviate the symptoms of depression. Getting more exercise, eating healthier, and eliminating drugs and alcohol can help. So can incorporating yoga, meditation, and other self-care activities into your daily routine.

Look for ways to expand your support network, either through family and friends or by joining a support group. 

It's important to understand that with any treatment for depression, the effects aren't immediate. It may take several months for treatments like therapy and medication to start working.

Sticking with the treatment plan you've created with the help of your mental health care provider can increase the likelihood that you'll start to feel better sooner. If you aren't sure whether a treatment is working, or if your symptoms get worse, talk to your health care provider before you stop the treatment. They'll work with you to find another option.

Once you experience a depressive episode, you are likely to experience another one in the future. That means you may experience depressive episodes throughout your life. Treatments can help you manage depressive episodes, though, so they have less impact on your life if they do recur.

If your symptoms change or get worse, get in touch with your health care provider right away. If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.

The lowdown

Clinical depression is one of the most common and serious forms of depression. A doctor may diagnose you with clinical depression if you've experienced five or more depression symptoms every day for at least two weeks (or longer).

It's difficult to predict how long a depressive episode will last and could be anywhere from six months to several years. However, depression is a treatable medical condition, and the right treatment can help alleviate or eliminate symptoms.

People with clinical depression who don't get treatment are more likely to experience additional depressive episodes in the future.

Treatment options include therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes. It can take several months for treatments to start to work, so it's important to stick with your treatment plan.

Have you considered clinical trials for Depression?

We make it easy for you to participate in a clinical trial for Depression, and get access to the latest treatments not yet widely available - and be a part of finding a cure.

Joining community groups and exercise programs for my condition made me feel empowered – but I want to be part of finding a cure.
Peter, 64

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