Maybe you haven’t felt like yourself in months. You don’t have the energy for hobbies or socializing. You’re having trouble keeping up at work because you’re so fatigued. Some days, you feel like you’re on the verge of tears even though nothing specific has gone wrong. But sometimes, you just feel numb. You might experience a lingering sense of guilt because you haven’t been truly happy in so long. But to other people, your circumstances seem favorable from the outside looking in.
If you’re suffering from depression symptoms, you may be wondering how long it will take for you to feel genuinely happy and content again. Let’s explore how long depression can last and when you may start seeing the benefits of treatment.
Sometimes, people experience depression because of specific circumstances. You might feel depressed because you’re grieving the loss of a loved one, coping with a layoff and difficult job search, or adjusting to life in a new city where you don’t know anyone yet. If you’re dealing with depression due to a specific set of circumstances, you may overcome these symptoms as your circumstances gradually improve. This does not mean that seeking help isn’t worth it. Talking to a therapist can certainly help you adapt to tough circumstances. But circumstantial depression can dissipate with time.
Clinical depression can last much longer than circumstantial depression. People may live with clinical depression due to a genetic predisposition or unexplained factors. The root cause of depression is not always obvious. People can become depressed even when everything is going “right” in their lives.
Someone who has major depressive disorder (MDD) might struggle with their symptoms for anywhere from six to eighteen months. However, the timeline can vary for every individual. However, persistent depressive disorder (PDD) can last for two years or more.
There’s No Specific “Timeline” For Depression
It’s important to keep in mind that while it’s natural to wonder how long it will take to feel relief from your symptoms. However, thinking of yourself as being on a “timeline” to overcome depression can feel like a burden. You might start putting on pressure on yourself to feel better or fake a positive attitude when you’re still struggling inside. It can be helpful to understand some basic facts regarding how long depression can last. But these metrics should not be viewed as “deadlines.”
When Can You See Improvements?
Maybe you’ve started implementing some helpful lifestyle changes, like exercising, getting more sleep, cooking healthy meals, and reducing your screen time. Perhaps you’ve even reached out to a therapist and booked your very first session. Now that you’re actively taking steps toward healing, you might be wondering when you can expect to find some relief from your symptoms. It can take about two to three months of active treatment with consistent effort in your daily life to notice benefits.
If you are prescribed medication, pay close attention to any side effects so that you can tweak your dosage or switch prescriptions if necessary. It can still take time to experience the benefits of medication, and it is not a “fast track” to healing from depression.
Depression Can Re-Occur
For some people, depression does re-occur. This does not mean that you have failed or done something wrong. Sometimes, people are just particularly vulnerable to depression. Even when your symptoms lift, monitor how you feel on a daily basis so that you can act quickly if symptoms pop up again.