How Long Does Depression Last?

April 29, 2022

Nue Life

Nue Life

Top points

  • While depression affects everyone differently, understanding the different types of depression will help you find the proper treatment.
  • There are several different types of depression with varying durations of symptoms.
  • Depression is caused by a variety of factors and getting to those root causes will help you better understand and address your symptoms.
  • Ketamine therapy is an effective new treatment for depression that increases the production of the neurotransmitter glutamate, improving the brain’s neuroplasticity.

Depression is different for everybody. But no matter how hopeless your depression makes you feel, remember that, with the proper treatment, relief is possible.

In fact, one study found that, for 50% of people, recovery comes within six months of the onset of symptoms. Your healing might be right around the corner.

Although there’s no direct answer that can tell you how long your depression will last, there are some things you can learn about depression that can clue you in to where you are on your journey towards healing.

What Is Depression?

Let’s take a moment to define depression. Depression is a mental illness that is much deeper than temporary feelings of sadness or even grief.

There are many potential symptoms that depression can cause, and we’ll address those in a moment. But, generally speaking, depression can be defined as a condition that causes intense feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or emptiness that lasts for several weeks or more.

How Long Does Depression Last?

There are several different types of depression, and each type may last for different lengths of time. Major depressive disorder is typically characterized by bouts of depression that last for a few weeks before the person returns to normal.

With seasonal depression, a person might have depressive episodes at the same time every year, such as during the winter months. These symptoms typically resolve when the seasons change.

Dysthymia, or persistent depressive disorder, is characterized by depression symptoms persisting for at least two years.

Though each type of depression differs slightly, the symptoms are generally similar.

What Are the Symptoms of Depression?

This mood disorder expresses itself in different ways for different people. Some may experience deep sadness, others feel emotionally numb, and others might have physical symptoms.

Let’s walk through a few of the main symptoms that people experience.

Feeling Numb

Many people experience a sort of emotional numbness from depression. In these cases, depression makes it difficult to feel any emotions at all. The only prominent feelings might be intense feelings of sadness, but outside of that, little emotion is felt.

This particular symptom can lead to a lot of different things. It could cause a loss of interest in activities or hobbies that you previously enjoyed. It can also contribute to a lower desire to engage in social events.

Prolonged Sadness

Depression is different from acute sadness — however, extreme sadness can be a symptom of a depressed mood. Depression can cause feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness and can even convince a person that life isn’t worth living.

This intense level of sadness is a reality for people with depression, but it’s not a life sentence. It can be overcome.

Lack of Motivation

Depression can take away your drive and motivation. Many people with depression experience low self-esteem. It can also cause people to have difficulty concentrating or staying focused.

All of these things can make a person feel less motivated to do the things that they were once able to do. Doing household chores might seem incredibly difficult, and your job might not come as easily to you.

Physical Symptoms

Sometimes, depression symptoms extend beyond the mind. It can affect your body as well.

For starters, depression can change your eating habits and appetite, leading you to eat more or less than usual.

Some people turn to alcohol or other substances as an unhealthy coping mechanism. And others might experience changes in sleeping patterns, whether that be a lack of sleep or sleeping too much.

Depression may also manifest as headaches and unexplainable aches or pains.

What Are the Causes of Depression?

Many different things can cause depression. More often than not, multiple different elements contribute to a person’s depression, so the cause is not simply one factor.

Let’s look at some things that could be contributing to your depression.

Are Depression and Stress Linked?

Stress absolutely can affect your depression. When your body is stressed, it releases a hormone called cortisol. At normal levels and time periods, cortisol can help you overcome a stressful situation by increasing your focus and helping your body perform well.

However, if your cortisol levels are too high, or if cortisol is in your system for long periods of time, it can start to do some damage — like inflammation, poor immunity, and changes in appetite. In this way, intense stress and chronic stress are said to predict depression. Major stressful events often lead to episodes of depression.

How Are Chemical Imbalances Linked to Depression?

The chemicals in the brain often contribute to a person’s depression.

Over the past few decades, scientists have developed a better understanding of what exactly happens to the brain in depression. Research has revealed that a decrease in neurotransmitters in the brain is associated with depression.

In particular, if there aren’t enough neurotransmitters to transmit signals in the part of your brain that regulates emotions, you might be more vulnerable to developing depression.

How Can Bad Circumstances Lead to Depression?

The loss of a loved one, a difficult time at work, and all sorts of stressful situations can have a significant impact on the mind. It is these situations that often lead to a person developing depression, partly due to an increase in stress hormones.

Sometimes, other situations can lead to depression, too. For example, postpartum depression is a common type of depression that develops in a woman after pregnancy, due to hormonal fluctuations and the major change that is parenthood.

Do Bad Habits Affect Depression?

Although your habits are most likely not going to cause depression, your lifestyle plays a role in how vulnerable you are to depression and how much it affects you.

Making sure you get adequate sleep, have a healthy diet, and maintain regular exercise can help you resist depression. On the flip side, if you don’t get enough of those things, you might be more likely to experience depression.

How Does Depression Impact Relationships?

Depression can cause a person to isolate themselves from their friends and loved ones.

Many people with depression withdraw, putting strain on their relationships. In addition, some people are more irritable when they are depressed, which can also affect their relationships. This, in turn, can cause a person to feel even more isolated in their struggles.

How Is Depression Diagnosed?

A person can be diagnosed with depression when they experience its symptoms for two weeks. But often, the correct diagnosis might take a while to find.

For example, seasonal affective disorder requires several years to diagnose because it takes several years to notice the annual pattern. And with dysthymia, a doctor cannot give a diagnosis until symptoms are present for two years.

For many, an accurate diagnosis may take a while, but it all depends on your situation.

What Are Treatment Options for Depression?

Luckily, we live in a time where depression is not a life sentence. Healing is available to you.

It requires that you find the right treatment. And with that treatment, you will come out on the other side of this struggle. Here are some of the ways that depression is commonly treated.

Prescription Medications for Depression

One of the more common treatment methods is antidepressants. These medications aim to increase the amount of the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine in your brain.

In practice, antidepressants aren’t as effective as you might expect. One study found that antidepressants only help alleviate symptoms in about 20% of people. Because of this, many depressed people see no improvements in symptoms from their antidepressants.

Not to mention, antidepressants often have undesirable side effects, including sexual side effects and depressive episodes, so the cons may outweigh the pros.

Does Psychotherapy Help With Depression?

Therapy with mental health professionals is a great way to help with depression. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy, talk therapy, and humanistic therapy can positively affect your symptoms.

However, getting these results takes time, and therapy alone isn’t enough for many people. Often, faster, more effective medical treatment is also needed.

Ketamine Therapy: A New Alternative to Antidepressants

In recent years, scientists have discovered that ketamine can provide significant relief for depression. This psychedelic therapy targets a different neurotransmitter that is far more common: glutamate.

By increasing glutamate production, ketamine can improve your brain’s neuroplasticity, allowing it to form new neural pathways giving you a chance to establish positive thought patterns in place of your negative ones.

This therapy is effective, and it acts remarkably quickly, with nearly half of people seeing symptom improvement within 24 hours of the first dose.

Lifestyle Changes

Living a healthy lifestyle can help you manage your symptoms by supporting your overall wellness. Eating a healthy and balanced diet, drinking enough water, getting plenty of sleep, and quitting bad habits like smoking are conducive to your overall wellness.

When Will Depression Go Away?

Every person has a different experience with depression. How quickly you achieve mental wellness depends on your life circumstances, treatments, and the type of depression you have been diagnosed with.

The length of your depression episode is quite difficult to predict. Scientists don’t fully understand what causes an episode to be long or short, but the prevailing theory is that it has to do with the circumstances that led to your depression.

Generally, it is believed that major, stressful life events generally cause short depressive episodes, and longer episodes and dysthymia are more often caused by your upbringing or major events in childhood.

Whichever type of depression you’re struggling with, understand that it may take time to receive the correct diagnosis. When that happens, you’ll be able to better understand the timeline of your depression and the therapy to best manage it. Even though you may feel discouraged and hopeless, know that for many depression does get better – and with the right treatment, you can too.

Treatment at Nue Life

Nue Life believes in holistic treatment. We offer at-home ketamine therapy programs that address multiple aspects of wellness. What happens after your ketamine experience is equally as important as the experience itself. We want to ensure you have meaningful takeaways from your experiences and help you establish positive new neural pathways.

That’s why we provide one-on-one health coaching and integration group sessions with each of our programs. We’re here to help map out the mind and body connections in your brain and help you discover the real insights that lead to real relief.


Depression | Columbia Health

Depression: How effective are antidepressants? | Informed Health

How New Ketamine Drug Helps with Depression | Yale Medicine

On chemical imbalances, antidepressants, and the diagnosis of depression | American Psychological Association

Stressful Life Events and Major Depression | The Family Institute at Northwestern University

Time to recovery, chronicity, and levels of psychopathology in major depression. A 5-year prospective follow-up of 431 subjects | PubMed

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