Will depression come back?

Theresa Nguyen, Mental Health America

Some people have depression once in their life and it goes away and doesn’t come back. One study found that 45% of people had depression once in their life, while 55% experienced depression multiple times. For people who experience depression multiple times (called recurring depression), symptoms might get better at times and get worse at others, but it doesn’t ever feel like depression is gone.

Your brain is a muscle - so just like other muscles, getting better takes time, isn't a light switch, and how bad things were gives you information about how much effort and time it might take to recovery.

Here are some factors that can impact whether depression will come back (if you might have a recurring episode).

1) If your first episode was really bad, it can be a sign of a chronic illness. How severe your symptoms are determines how much the depression has impacted your brains health and your quality of life. The more severe the depression is, the harder it is for your brain to recover. Severe depression isn’t just feeling really sad for a while. Severe depression looks like feeling so sad you can’t get out of bed, sleep is totally off, you miss school or work, and depression has gotten in the way of relationships.

2) If depression runs in your family, you might a genetic predisposition to clinical depression. If clinical depression runs in your family, it is an indicator that you may need medical intervention to feel relief. It’s helpful to know what treatments did or didn’t work for family members.

3) If you respond well to treatment and things got better the first time you got depression, it’s a good sign that your brain can continue to respond positively to treatments. The only thing that matters is finding out what works for you and keep doing that thing.

4) What else is going on in your life. Depression is hard to fight if you’re constantly battling things that increase stress, make you feel alone, attacked, or if you don’t have support or security. If you’re dealing with relationship problems or financial problems, focusing on making those things better can help also tackle the depression.

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