10 FAQs About the Course of Depression

Jerry Kennard | Mar 21st 2014

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What mood range is included in depression?

Depression ranges from a normal state of sadness lasting a fairly short time through to a deep and impairing mood state that can ultimately be life threatening.

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How common is depression?

Sometimes referred to as the common cold of mental illness, major depression is very common in Westernized cultures affecting on average 1 person in 5 during their lifetime. 

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Are men and women equally affected?

The statistics would have it that women are twice as likely to experience major depression. Across cultures this is a reasonably stable comparison. However, there is increasing evidence that men hide or manifest symptoms of depression differently and which may not be particularly evident. 

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When is depression clinically significant?

There are quite a number of issues a clinician will take account of but basically if mood, behavior, bodily states and thought processes are affected over a lengthy period of time and interfere with daily living, there is cause for concern, probably resulting in treatment. 

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At what age can symptoms of depression start?

Children and adults may be diagnosed with major depressive disorder or dysthymia (a long-term form of depression with somewhat milder symptoms than major depression). 

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Are there implications for depression starting so early in life?

There is certainly a view that the earlier in life a depressive disorder starts the chances of a more severe and recurrent depression increases. 

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So, when does depression typically start?

Depressive disorders typically start in adolescence or young adulthood. 

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How long does depression last?

If we’re thinking about a single episode of depression the answer is, left untreated, the worst symptoms of depression usually lift around 4 to 6 months later. But depression does vary in nature and severity so this needs to be remembered. Treatment (medication and/or cognitive) can speed the process of recovery significantly and may protect against further episodes of depression.

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Does depression return?

AQIt is by no means inevitable that depression will return but for some people it can occur regularly and over a lengthy period of time.