How Long Does Depression Last? | Banyan Mental Health
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How Long Does Depression Last? & Will It Go Away on Its Own?

How Long Does Depression Last?

While sadness is a common emotion that everyone experiences from time to time, depression is a mental health disorder characterized by more persistent and severe feelings of sadness. There are several different types of depression and the symptoms of these disorders can interfere with a person’s daily life. Understandably, many people affected by this condition often wonder, “how long does depression last? Can depression go away on its own?” Today, we’re looking into the duration of depression symptoms and whether they can go away without treatment.

How Long Does Depression Last?

For someone to be diagnosed with depression, they must exhibit at least five depression symptoms, once a day, for at least two weeks.1 Common symptoms of depression may include:

  • Showing less interest in activities that were once enjoyable
  • Frequent feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness, or hopelessness
  • Frequent mood swings or angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters
  • Disturbance in sleep patterns, such as sleeping too much or too little
  • Reduced or increased appetite, leading to weight loss or weight gain
  • Anxiety, agitation, or restlessness
  • Withdrawal from loved ones
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions, or remembering things
  • Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
  • Unexplained physical ailments, such as back pain or headaches

How long depression can last after these two weeks can vary drastically from person to person and will depend on a variety of factors including the type of depressive disorder they have and whether they receive depression treatment. Additionally, depression can be highly recurrent, with most people who experience one episode having multiple episodes in their lifetimes.

Factors That Affect How Long Depression Lasts

Episodes of depression symptoms are similar to the “flares” that occur in people with multiple sclerosis or arthritis. Something may suddenly aggravate their symptoms, causing them to worsen or “flare-up”.

In people with major depressive disorder, depressive episodes or flares can be caused by a variety of things, such as:

  • Comorbidity (having another mental health disorder or substance use disorder)
  • Family history of depression
  • Personality
  • Cognitive patterns
  • Past trauma
  • Loss of a loved one
  • Lack of social support
  • Stressful life events

So how long do depressive episodes last? Usually, the depressive episode length ranges from six months to eight months, depending on the person. While some people may have depression that fades, others may struggle with depression on and off their whole life. Also, different types of depression go away with time and are more short-lived by nature.

For example, seasonal affective disorder or winter depression is depression that recurs during a certain season each year. As the seasons change and the days pass, the symptoms begin to fade. Similarly, postpartum depression occurs shortly after birth and typically does not last more than a few weeks.1

In other cases, depression can be chronic. Major depressive disorder is a severe form of depression with symptoms that last months or sometimes even more than a year, especially without mental health care.

These severe depressive episodes may come and go and are often followed by periods of more mild symptoms.2 Some people with major depressive disorder will repeat this cycle of severe and mild depression throughout most of their life.

Does Depression Go Away On Its Own?

While more severe cases of depression usually require professional mood disorder treatment to see improvement in symptoms, some depression may go away without treatment. This is usually the result of more mild cases or types of depression that tend to only be temporary such as postpartum depression or seasonal affective disorder.

Although there is a chance that some depression will go away without treatment, the best way to decrease the amount of time that depression lasts is to get professional help. Especially in the case of major depressive disorders, a professional inpatient mental health treatment could reduce the severity and duration of symptoms drastically. Treatment usually includes a combination of psychotherapy techniques and medications.

Will My Depression Ever Go Away?

Yes, you can manage your depression with the right kind of care. If left untreated, some depression can become more severe or lead to other secondary problems. Other mental health problems may arise, or depression could also snowball into suicidal ideation. In some cases, people will turn to drugs and alcohol to self-medicate and develop a substance abuse problem on top of their depression. When this occurs, dual diagnosis treatment becomes necessary.

Our Banyan mental health center helps people move past their mental health problems and learn how to better manage their symptoms. It is possible to live a full and happy life despite depression or any other mental health disorder.

To get help for yourself or a loved one, call our mental health treatment center now at 888-280-4763.

Related Reading:
How to Get Out of A Depression Funk
Depression and Dreams: How Mental Health Affects Your Dreams

  1. NIH- Depression
  2. Harvard Health Publishing- Major Depression
Alyssa is Banyan’s Director of Digital Marketing & Technology. After overcoming her own struggles with addiction, she began working in the treatment field in 2012. She graduated from Palm Beach State College in 2016 with additional education in Salesforce University programs. A part of the Banyan team since 2016, Alyssa brings over 5 years of experience in the addiction treatment field.

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