10 FAQs About the Course of Depression

Medical Reviewer
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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.

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. 

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. 

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. 

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). 

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. 

So, when does depression typically start?

Depressive disorders typically start in adolescence or young adulthood. 

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.

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.