How Long Does Depression Last
The answer is so complex and nuanced, it’s going to take more than one blog post to fully answer the question.
Today, I’ll be examining commonly asked questions about how long depressive episodes last.
In the next blog post I’ll focus on the different types of depression and how they can impact the duration of depression.
In the final post, about ‘How long does depression last,’ I’ll explain how the severity of depression is classified, the treatments, and the self-care you can do on your own.
Let’s start with the most common question:
How Long Does Depression Last?
Good question… and I wish I had a definitive answer for you. The fact of the matter is that every person’s experience with depression is unique.
There are too many factors- biological, situational, and environmental– that impact whether or not your depression will disappear without any type of therapeutic or medical intervention.
The best answer I can give you regarding whether or not your depression goes away without any treatment is this: Maybe.
It is common for some people to experience short-lived depression that only lasts for a few weeks.
While other people experience untreated depression for years and years.
Depression sucks… and I wish there was a clear-cut answer to whether or not your depression will go away on its own.
That stated, there are many things you can do that will lessen your symptoms or- potentially- eradicate them all together.
How do I know that I have depression?
It’s relatively easy to diagnose.
If you suffer with depressive symptoms for at least two weeks, the diagnosis of depression could be appropriate. Check on the DSM-5. It clearly lists the criteria.
Please know that if you fall into the category of someone that has had untreated depression for months or years, it doesn’t mean you have to have depression forever.
Depression does respond to treatment.
Depression is an extremely common mental health concern in the United States.
This means that lots of research has been devoted to how to curb depressive symptoms. New evidence-based therapies for depression come on the scene fairly regularly!
If you sought treatment in the past 10-20 years and decided it didn’t work, I’d encourage you to seek help again…
Getting medical/therapeutic support even a decade ago will look different than today!
Can depression last for years?
Yes, it can.
Depression affects everyone differently (I think I may be sounding like a broken record at this point!)
There are only so many symptoms of depression- but how long those symptoms linger is highly individual.
For some of you reading this, your depressive symptoms have been present for years.
For others, you know you went through a depressive episode, but it was long enough ago that the details are fuzzy to you now about how long it lasted and how you got out of it.
Research suggests that the average length of an episode of clinical depression is between 6-30 months. With the most common length being about 10 months in length.
Let me emphasize this again: Depression is treatable.
If you’ve felt depressed for longer than 2 weeks and meet the DSM-5 criteria, I suggest that you seek out a medical professional.
As I have stated before, the good news is that you don’t have to continue to suffer! There is lots of help that is available!
Here are some ideas:
- Locate a therapist that specializes in depression.
- Talk with a doctor about your symptoms.
- Connect with supportive friends and family (this is likely doing the opposite of what your depression and anxiety are telling you to do)
- Make sure you are getting enough sleep.
- Decrease any alcohol or drug use. Unfortunately, these substances can make your problems worse, not better.
Hopefully, if you are feeling depressed, you’re ready to give therapy a go!