Depression affects an estimated 350 million people around the world, most of which do not seek treatment. However, treatment is one of the most effective ways to rid sadness. When considering your options, many wonder how long depressions lasts with treatment, and when they can expect to feel better. This depends on several factors: the type of depression, the patient’s previous experience with depression, the type of treatment, and response to treatment.

How Long Does Depression Last With Treatment: Depression Type

The type of depression a person suffers impacts how long depression lasts with treatment. There are many different types of depression, and some people may find their depression comes and goes. For others, depression is chronic and seldom goes away.

Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD) And Dysthymia

Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD), previously known as dysthymia, is a long period of depression generally lasting two years or more. Though patients may feel better and have some positive days during this time, PDD stands out from other types of depression because it is relatively constant. It is not affected by seasonal changes, life events, hormonal changes, or other existing disorders.

People with PDD experience two or more of the following most days for two years or more:

  • Depressed or irritable mood
  • Poor appetite or overeating
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Low energy
  • Loss of interest in hobbies or activities
  • Low self-esteem
  • Trouble concentrating or making decisions
  • Hopelessness or empty feeling

Due to its constant nature, this type of depression lasts for years and generally doesn’t improve without treatment. Medication and psychotherapy techniques such as cognitive behavioral therapy are often used together to treat PDD, but each person is different.

How Long Does This Depression Last With Treatment?

Those with deeply entrenched negative ideas, such as negative feelings about themselves or on life, will take longer to feel better. Some patients who respond to medication and/or actively practice psychotherapy techniques may begin to feel better in a month or two, and for others it make take a year or more. This process is gradual and ongoing, with patients experiencing slow but steady improvements to their mood and behavior over time.

Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)

Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is similar to PDD is some ways, but it is less consistent. While PDD may include fewer or less severe symptoms over a longer time period, MDD often includes severe symptoms over a shorter time period. Many of the symptoms of MDD and PDD are similar, except patient with MDD experience them most of the time for a two week period or more.

This is a type of “episodic” depression, and patients may feel better in between episodes, but episodes rarely go away for good. MDD can also be easily confused with other types of episodic depression, such as seasonal affective disorder, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, or bipolar depression (see below).

People with MDD experience 5 or more of the following most of the time for a 2-week period:

  • Depressed or irritable mood
  • Loss of interest in hobbies or activities
  • Change in appetite or weight
  • Sleeping too much or not enough
  • Lack of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Trouble focusing
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

How Long Does This Depression Last With Treatment?

Like PDD, MDD is treatable. The length of recovery varies; patients will feel better in a few weeks once the episode has passed, but it will take longer to treat the disorder as a whole. Since it is less constant, treatment often helps patients identify the onset of depressive episodes and develop positive coping mechanisms.

Bipolar Depression And Manic Depressive Disorder

Bipolar disorder, previously known as manic depressive disorder, is a mood disorder than causes a different type of depression. Bipolar disorder is characterized by extreme personality and behavioral shifts which can bring out bipolar depression.

A person with bipolar disorder experiences periods of extreme energy, called mania, and periods of low energy and hopelessness; depression. Symptoms of bipolar depression can occur during a manic or depressed state, but will appear differently. In a manic phase, for example, a person with bipolar disorder may take part in deliberately dangerous activities instead of expressing feelings of hopelessness.

A person with bipolar disorder will show some of the following symptoms for at least a week during each episode:


  • Little need for sleep
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Talking fast, fidgeting or pacing
  • Working or being active for long periods
  • Higher than usual self-esteem
  • Reckless behavior

  • Excessive sleeping
  • Lack of interest in hobbies or activities
  • Tiredness
  • Hopeless or empty feeling
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Bipolar disorder is more than having good and bad days. With bipolar disorder, behaviors are often unpredictable, dangerous, and difficult for friends and loved ones to understand.

How Long Does This Depression Last With Treatment?

It’s difficult to determine how long this depression lasts with treatment or without. Episodes may last for weeks or months and shift rapidly. As with most types of depression, how long the depression lasts with treatment depends on the person. Patients that respond to medication can experience level moods in a month or two. Psychotherapy can take longer, but also produce effective results.

Other Depressive Disorders

Episodic depression can be caused by a variety of factors, and each is treated differently. How long depression lasts with treatment varies, but all disorders are treatable either with medication, counseling, or both. To determine what type of depression may be affecting you or a loved one, it’s helpful to note when symptoms occur and if this is related to other events. The following are some, but not all, other common types of depression:

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): Those with seasonal affective disorder often feel sad, hopeless, have low energy or other signs of depression during winter, but not during summer. As you might expect, this type of depression lasts during winter, and parts of spring and fall. Though it is easier to find the cause, SAD can be as serious as other types of depression.

Peripartum (Postpartum) Depression: This occurs in some women at the end of pregnancy and the weeks or months after childbirth. While some amounts of stress and sleeplessness are expected after a child is born, peripartum depression is more serious and includes symptoms similar to MDD. It’s unclear how long this type of depression lasts with treatment, but getting help early can speed up recovery.

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD): PMDD is a more serious form of premenstrual syndrome particularly affecting mood and behavior. Women with PMDD experience mood shifts similar to MDD or experience severe anxiety. This type of depression lasts a week or two, but will come back. Treatment with antidepressants or oral contraceptives can stop PMDD or reduce symptoms.

Adjustment Disorder: If depressive symptoms appear in the three months following a stressful event, it may be adjustment disorder. This type of depression generally lasts six months after the event as the person adjusts to the change. Without coping mechanisms, depression from adjustment disorder can interfere with everyday life, and therapy or medication can be helpful. If it persists, it may turn into PDD. Adjustment disorder can result from; a career change, divorce, death, illness, moving, or other lifestyle changes.

Comorbid Depression: Comorbid depression occurs alongside other physical or mental disorders, including cancer, heart disease, anxiety or obesity, among others. The depression may result from limitations or lifestyle changes from the existing disorder. How long this type of depression lasts with treatment often depends on the existing condition; it may last throughout the recovery period or, if the condition is long-term, it may persist. Similar to persistent depression, patients can begin to feel better in weeks or months with appropriate medication or therapy.


Depression can appear in many ways and have many causes. To know how long depression lasts and how long depression lasts with treatment, it’s important to know how it may have started or what causes it to worsen. Different types of therapy and medication are best suited to different types of depression, and working with your counselor to understand these can reduce the time depression lasts with treatment.


At Michigan Counseling Centers, we are the experts in resolving any issue that might be causing you discomfort. We currently offer services in Bloomfield Hills and Taylor, and plan to expand our services to other communities.

To inquire about or receive treatment, please contact us and we will follow up with you to schedule an initial consultation.