Depression: How long does it last?

Depression, often known as major depressive disorder, is a type of mood illness. Clinical depression, instead of simply feeling “blue” or “down in the dumps,” is thought to be caused by chemical imbalances in the brain.

To be diagnosed with serious depression, you must have at least five depressive symptoms every day for at least two weeks. Common depression symptoms include:

  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities
  • Sadness, tearfulness, emptiness, or hopelessness regularly
  • Mood swings or furious outbursts, impatience or frustration, even over little issues
  • Sleep disturbances, such as sleeping too much or too little
  • Reduced or increased appetite, resulting in weight loss or gain
  • Anxiety, agitation, or agitation
  • Withdrawal from family and friends
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, making judgments, or remembering things
  • Suicide or death thoughts that are frequent or recurring
  • Physical illnesses that are unexplained, such as back pain or headaches

Major depressive disorder can be recurrent, with at least half of those with one episode having one or more further episodes during their lives. The duration of your depression is determined by lifestyle variables and whether or not you receive prompt treatment. It might linger for weeks, months, or even years.

Factors That Affect How Long Depression Lasts

Depression is an illness characterized by depressive episodes, similar to “flares” in persons with multiple sclerosis or arthritis. An episode occurs when a person experiences depression symptoms for at least two weeks. An episode's length can vary. While some people only have one, most people who suffer from depression have recurring episodes throughout their lives, which is why treatment is vital. If left untreated, the symptoms, like any sickness, can worsen and cause considerable impairment, interfere with relationships and work, or lead to self-harm or suicide.

Individuals suffering from serious depression may undergo partial or total remission, in which their symptoms disappear, or they have no symptoms at all. Patients with major depressive disorder may experience depressive episodes or flare-ups for several reasons, including:

  • Comorbidity (having another mental health problem or substance use disorder) (having another mental health disorder or substance use disorder)
  • Depression runs in the family.
  • Personality
  • Patterns of thought
  • Previous adversity
  • The death of a loved one
  • Inadequate social support
  • Stressful life situations

So how long do depressive episodes last? Depressive episodes typically last six to eight months, depending on the individual. While some people only experience depression for a brief period, others may struggle with it intermittently throughout their life. Different varieties of depression also have a shorter duration and fade over time.

Winter depression, or seasonal affective disorder, is a type of depression that happens every year during a particular season. The symptoms begin to fade as the season's change and the days pass. Similarly, postpartum depression starts immediately after birth and usually lasts only a few weeks. Depression can also be chronic in some situations. Major depressive disorder is a severe form of depression with symptoms that persist for months or even years, especially if no mental health care is available.

These severe depression episodes can come and go, and they are frequently followed by periods of milder symptoms. Some patients with major depressive illness will fluctuate between severe and mild depression for the majority of their lives.

Can Depression Go Away on Its Own?

Is depression permanent, or does it subside after a while? Depression is a serious mental condition that will not go away or heal on its own. Depression, if left untreated, can linger for years or decades and worsen with time.

People who are uncertain of when their depression will end should reach out and get professional assistance. Receiving treatment can help reduce the length of a depressive episode and the likelihood of repeating it. Treatment such as medication or cognitive behavioral therapy can achieve results in weeks.

Can Depression be Cured?

When someone is going through a depressed episode, it can feel like it will never stop. Unfortunately, there is no cure for depression because it is always possible for the disorder to reoccur. There are, however, numerous therapeutic treatments that can help treat depression and ease its symptoms.

The goal of depression treatment should be to develop coping skills and support networks that may be used when depressive symptoms arise. It is crucial to remember that no two people experience depression in the same way, so depression treatment should be individualized for each individual.

How is Depression Treated?

Clinical depression is a life-threatening medical illness. It's unlikely that depression will go away on its own. Without treatment, the symptoms can get much worse. Early treatment, as with many other medical issues, can result in a better outcome. Your depression symptoms may become simpler to manage with treatment. Treatment can also lessen the duration of your depression episodes or perhaps prevent them from occurring in the future.

There are numerous depression therapy alternatives available. None of these choices are guaranteed to cure depression, but they may help you find respite and develop skills to better manage symptoms. Among the therapy options are:


Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most commonly prescribed type of therapy for those suffering from clinical depression. It can assist you in challenging negative thoughts connected with depression and developing new, healthy thinking patterns and beliefs. CBT can also lower the likelihood of having another depressive episode.


Finding the perfect drug, dose, and combination can take time, but there are numerous options for treating depression. You can work with your doctor or a psychiatrist to find the right medication for you. 

Lifestyle changes

Certain lifestyle modifications may help lessen depression symptoms. Increasing physical activity, eating healthy, and abstaining from drugs and alcohol can all assist. Incorporating yoga, meditation, and other self-care activities into your routine might also help. Find ways to broaden your support network through family and friends or by joining a support group.


Depression is a serious illness, and depressed episodes are common for many people who suffer from it. This isn't to say it's hopeless; far from it. A depressed episode can last anywhere from six months to several years, making it difficult to anticipate how long it will last. However, depression is a medical disorder that can be treated, and the correct medication can help relieve or eliminate symptoms. It can take several months for treatments to start to work, so it's important to stick with your treatment plan. 

People who do not seek treatment for clinical depression are more likely to develop further depressive episodes in the future. Various resources are available to assist you in adapting to and coping with depressive periods. Depression is a chronic condition, but it is manageable.

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