Credit: Thinkstock Question:
Lifelong major depression…is there a cure? I have dealt with major depression and PTSD since I was 10 yrs old. The depressions last 3-6 years. i was not diagnosed or treated until I was in my 20’s. Some AD’s have helped but it doesn’t seem to shorten the length of depression. The pattern is depression… about a year of feeling better, a good year and then a year of downhill moods, followed by rock bottom. In 51 years I have had about 23 years of no or low depression. My PTSD usually acts up at the same time as my depression. Is there any chance that this pattern will ever change? It is hard to feel attached to life or see a brighter future. Does the PTSD cause the depression or the other way around?
Good questions. You really need to be asking your doctor these questions, but I’ll be glad to tell you what I can based on experience and research. No, there is no cure for major depression (aka clinical depression or major depressive disorder). Some people do have periods of remission such as you describe, but that’s not a cure.
Are you stopping medications during your periods of feeling better? I’ve read that some people need to continue their medications even when feeling better because if they don’t, their levels of neurotransmitters (serotonin, norepinephrine, etc.) get too far out of kilter, and it makes getting the depression under control again even more difficult.
PTSD is often accompanied by depression. I’ve not been able to find a definitive answer about whether PTSD can actually cause depression, but depression doesn’t cause PTSD.
Your patterns can change, but there’s no predicting what those changes may bring. If you’re relying on medications only, you might want to consider therapy or counseling as well. A type of therapy called “talk therapy” seems to be especially helpful for PTSD.
About Ask the Expert Patient:
If you would like to ask a question about depression or living with depression, please write a SharePost and be sure to select "a question" in the drop-down menu next to "I want to create a SharePost that is a," which is Step 2 on the SharePost creation screen. I will post my responses to your questions each week.
Please keep in mind that I am not a physician. I cannot diagnose or give medical advice. This section is for sharing information and offering support as a nonphysician "Expert Patient."
I hope you find this general medical and health information useful, but this Q & A is meant to support not replace the professional medical advice you receive from your doctor. For all personal medical and health matters, including decisions about diagnoses, medications and other treatment options, you should always consult your doctor. See full disclaimer.