How long is the duration of depression?

Major depressive disorder usually occurs in single or recurrent episodes. In approximately half of all patients the depression subsides at the end of the first depressive episode without therapeutic support. In the other half of those affected the symptoms may persist or recur, so that therapy may be required.

The duration of the episodes of depression can vary from a few weeks to long episodes of more than one year of duration. Untreated, the duration of the episodes is about 6 to 8 months on average.

The risk of a severe course of depression increases with advanced age and in unfavorable family and social conditions such as lack of support and continuous problems and conflicts. A probable genetic burden through to multiple blood relatives suffering from depression may also increase the risk of a severe course. In addition the co-occurrence of other diseases, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder or of an alcohol or drug dependency may complicate the course of depression.