Does Depression Go Away Eventually?

Depression is a common mental health disorder throughout the U.S. In fact, 21 million Americans experienced a depressive episode during 2020 6. Dealing with depression can leave people discouraged and unsure of what to do next. People may struggle with overall motivation and wonder when that dark cloud around them will lift. They may be losing hope, wondering when they can return to enjoying life.

Depression can impact many different people from all kinds of backgrounds. Seeking depression treatment can be challenging due to the mental health stigma. However, treatment and therapy options are available for depression.

What is Depression?

Depression, as defined by the National Library of Medicine, is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest 1. To be diagnosed with depression, symptoms must persist for at least two weeks. Daily functioning can become challenging and reduce the quality of life.

Sadness

When most people think of depression, that prevailing feeling of sadness usually tops the list of symptoms that come to mind. Sadness associated with depression can feel like a heavyweight. At times it may feel like an inability to feel joy, even under circumstances when the person would usually feel happy. 

Depressive sadness may not have an external reason. Depression can be triggered by certain events. These events include the loss of a loved one, job loss, or devastating life events. The sadness associated with depression may not have an external trigger.

Emptiness

Sometimes, rather than feeling deeply sad, patients suffering from depression may simply feel empty. They may feel an overall absence of emotion, including happiness and sadness. Depressed individuals may have difficulty reacting to regular stimulation or responding appropriately to cues from friends and loved ones.

Loss of Motivation

Depression can feel paralyzing and cause a loss of motivation 3. Feelings of emptiness are often associated with depression and make it very to participate in daily life. 

Often, people with depression have difficulty summoning up the motivation to accomplish regular tasks. This includes simply getting out of bed in the morning or taking care of basic work tasks. 

Accomplishing new goals may feel insurmountable. People with depression may fall into a “rut” and lose interest in activities they typically enjoy. Some of these activities include going out with friends and family members or participating in hobbies and other everyday activities.

Irritability

People suffering from high levels of depression may seem irritable and complicated to get along with. They may have difficulty interacting with others, including friends and loved ones, and may seem to push others away. It can be challenging to get through to someone with depression. This is especially true as they struggle with that increased irritability. 

Patients suffering from depression may feel more easily annoyed. They may find themselves responding sharply to even relatively minor stimuli. People with depression may also have difficulty coping with many everyday difficulties that often come their way. That increased irritability can also make it more challenging to interact with others at work, school, or home. Over time, it can lead to decreased relationships.

Fatigue

Many people suffering from depression struggle with fatigue, which can become a constant companion. They may struggle to deal with the ongoing impact of that fatigue. Fatigue can potentially wipe energy levels and make it hard to find the motivation to continue even everyday activities. Fatigue may feel challenging to overcome and may not be impacted by increased sleep. 

Often, patients continue to feel tired no matter how much sleep or rest they get. Patients may have difficulty getting out of bed or mustering the energy to engage in everyday activities. Depression can make it very difficult for patients to complete their job responsibilities. 

The disorder may also interfere with their ability to enjoy leisure activities. While exercise can help alleviate some symptoms of fatigue, it may not alleviate it entirely.

Appetite Changes

Depression can cause immense overall changes in appetite. Often, people suffering from depression will struggle with a lack of appetite. The change in appetite can make them lose weight rapidly. 

Other people struggling with depression may have a hard time moderating food consumption. This can lead to overeating and significant weight gain, particularly when combined with the lower activity levels often associated with depression. 

Appetite changes may also relate to the lack of motivation often associated with depression. This is since patients suffering from depression may have difficulty finding the motivation to prepare a meal. Simply deciding what to eat may pose a more significant challenge than patients feel up to handling.

Increased Pain

In some patients, depression can cause increased pain or worsening physical symptoms. Increased pain can be difficult to navigate since it may not seem to have an apparent cause. Or in some cases, doctors may not take it as seriously as the condition warrants. Dealing with that increased pain may also make it more difficult for patients with depression to participate in increased physical activity.

The increased pain associated with depression may make it more difficult to diagnose depression accurately. This is because doctors may first need to establish a cause for that pain if possible.

Does Depression Go Away On Its Own?

Many people notice an ebb and flow of depressive symptoms 5. Significant stressors, from job challenges to personal losses, can increase depressive symptoms and make them harder to deal with. On the other hand, sometimes, patients may notice that their symptoms look up for periods. This may lead them to believe that depression may alleviate on its own. 

Unfortunately, chemical depression, rather than depression symptoms or sadness caused by external symptoms, may not resolve independently. Many patients find themselves waiting in vain for depression symptoms to resolve. Conditions like prenatal or postnatal depression may prove more likely to resolve with time. However, treatment can go a long way toward helping to alleviate those symptoms.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Symptoms of seasonal affective disorder, also known as seasonal depression, can rise during the colder winter months 4. This is when people may spend less time outdoors and get less Vitamin D.  The shorter winter days can make it more difficult for many people to get adequate Vitamin D. 

Many people suffer a noted slump during the winter months, especially when the excitement of the holidays ends. Seasonal affective disorder may wane as the weather warms up and the sun is up longer. Many people may, as a result, experience a decrease in overall depressive symptoms.

Natural Flow of Depression

For many people, depression goes in cycles. Sometimes, symptoms may seem relatively mild. However, those symptoms may rise in other cases and cause more severe complications. 

Patients suffering from depression may assume that depression has improved or been cured when they notice those symptoms starting to ease. However, in many cases, depression can come back again rather than resolve. In some instances, reappearing depression symptoms may get increasingly more severe.

Resolution During or After Treatment

Many people suffering from depression seek treatment from psychiatrists and therapists. Treatment options may vary depending on the type of depression, the duration of symptoms, and how the depression responds to treatment 2. However, treatment might not be as effective as the patient initially hoped.

Medication

Many patients with major depressive disorder turn to medications to help them manage depressive symptoms. Medications can help resolve many of the challenges associated with depression. However, they do have side effects associated with taking the medications.

These side effects include increased anxiety, decreased energy, tremors, and mood regulation problems. In addition, some patients suffering from depression may have difficulty finding medications that effectively regulate their symptoms, making it more difficult for them to find the right solution for their ongoing care.

In addition, many patients suffer severe rebound symptoms if they stop taking their antidepressants abruptly. Antidepressants often require a careful, supervised withdrawal to ensure that symptoms do not return. Furthermore, those medications may remain necessary long after the initial regime. This leaves patients reliant on them for the rest of their lives.

Therapy

Many patients with depressive symptoms find that therapy can help provide them with more effective coping mechanisms. Therapy can help change negative thinking patterns that can cause depression. Therapy also helps people develop coping strategies to manage their depression. 

This includes better diet and exercise or sleep management that can help improve symptoms of depression. Talk therapy can also help identify the symptoms of depression. Therapy also can help patients work through the challenges they may be dealing with more healthily. 

However, therapy may not work for every patient suffering from depression. In some cases, symptoms may resume when the patient stops going to therapy. This is especially true if the patient has not worked through all the underlying concerns that led to depression. 

In other cases, depressive symptoms may resume under extreme stress. Patients may also fail to continue utilizing the coping mechanisms they learned in therapy when they no longer attend therapy.

All types of treatment for depression may not necessarily be appropriate for everyone suffering from depression. Frequently, patients suffering from depression have difficulty finding the right balance of medications or therapy that help alleviate their symptoms. Other types of depression may prove very resistant to treatment.

Treatment for Depression: What to Expect

Before diagnosing depression, doctors may want to test their patients extensively to rule out any underlying physical symptoms. For example, pain and chronic fatigue could result from an underlying health concern rather than depressive symptoms. Treating those physical conditions or situations may, in some cases, help resolve symptoms of depression.

Choosing the Right Medication

Medications for depression fall into several categories that impact the brain differently. Finding the proper medication to treat depressive symptoms can take a long time.

Some patients respond very well to specific types of medication. Others may note that they notice no actual reduction in depression symptoms. They may also state that they do not cope well with the side effects of using those medications.

Selecting the proper medication can be a long process. Often, the supervising doctor will slowly increase the dosage of new medications. Finding the proper medication for a specific patient’s needs may take a long time.

In addition, people may have to work down the dosage of one medication. This way, the medication can leave the system before starting a new one, especially if your existing depression medication has stopped working after a long period.

Types of Psychotherapy for Depression

Therapy for depression can prove highly effective for some patients, but it may not work quickly. Finding the right strategy for addressing depression and maintaining that reduction of symptoms can take time.

    • Cognitive therapy aims to replace negative thoughts and habits with more positive ones. Cognitive therapy may encourage patients to practice positive thinking or look at the positive things around them, which may create an overall more positive attitude.
    • Psychodynamic therapy helps identify underlying concerns or issues, including unresolved childhood challenges, that may contribute to depression. Identifying and processing those underlying symptoms may make it easier to address the ongoing symptoms of depression and improve mood. 
    • Cognitive-behavioral therapy addresses the negative thought patterns that may contribute to depression and any specific behavior patterns that may increase depression. For example, avoiding enjoyable activities, failing to eat, or avoiding sleep may all increase symptoms of depression.
    • Intrapersonal therapy helps identify social challenges that may be contributing to depression. For example, poor personal communication or support may increase symptoms of depression. Through intrapersonal therapy, you can get a better feel for how to get help and decrease symptoms of depression.

Psychotherapy for depression may involve individual therapy alone or may be used in conjunction with family therapy. Family therapy can help all family members learn how to cope with depressive symptoms. Family therapy can also help direct family members of a patient with depression. This includes parents or spouses learning to provide the support their loved ones may need while dealing with depression.

TMS

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, also known as TMS, can provide advanced brain healing that may prove helpful in resolving symptoms of depression. TMS helps stimulate the brain with magnets, leading to brain recovery and actual improvement in mood. Effective TMS is a highly desirable method for decreasing symptoms of depression and improving overall mood, performance, and function.

TMS sessions can prove highly effective in actually resolving and treating symptoms of depression rather than simply covering them up. TMS, when used in conjunction with other types of therapy, may lead to real improvement in many patients. Many patients can stop taking damaging medications after TMS therapy.

TMS therapy sessions last around 6-20 minutes, depending on the patient’s specific needs. They may start with mapping the patient’s brain to understand potential problem areas, then delivering customized treatments designed for an individual patient’s needs. Many patients describe TMS therapy as a highly relaxing treatment. It is a non-invasive treatment process that can help create incredible results for many patients suffering from symptoms of depression.

Helping Resolve Your Depression Symptoms

Symptoms of depression are unlikely to go away on their own entirely. While options like medication and psychological therapy can help resolve the symptoms of depression for some patients. Others may find that they cannot get the relief they need from medication and therapy alone. 

At Brain Therapy TMS, we use a personalized program that includes transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to help resolve the symptoms of depression. TMS is non-invasive and medication-free, with few side effects making it an effective alternative treatment for depression.

Sources:

  1. Chand SP, Arif H. Depression. [Updated 2022 Jul 18]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430847/ 
  2. Duval F, Lebowitz BD, Macher JP. Treatments in depression. Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2006;8(2):191-206. doi: 10.31887/DCNS.2006.8.2/fduval. PMID: 16889105; PMCID: PMC3181767. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3181767/ 
  3. McCarter T. Depression overview. Am Health Drug Benefits. 2008 Apr;1(3):44-51. PMID: 25126224; PMCID: PMC4115320. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4115320/ 
  4. Melrose S. Seasonal Affective Disorder: An Overview of Assessment and Treatment Approaches. Depress Res Treat. 2015;2015:178564. doi: 10.1155/2015/178564. Epub 2015 Nov 25. PMID: 26688752; PMCID: PMC4673349. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4673349 
  5. Upthegrove R, Birchwood M, Ross K, Brunett K, McCollum R, Jones L. The evolution of depression and suicidality in first episode psychosis. Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2010 Sep;122(3):211-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0447.2009.01506.x. Epub 2009 Nov 18. PMID: 19922525. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19922525/ 
  6. National Institute of Mental Health. 2022 Jan. Major Depression. NIMH. National Institutes of Health. US Department of Health and Human Services. Available from: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/major-depression

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