A disorder like depression can be consisting of one or more depressive episodes. When a person experiences signs of depression for a period of over two weeks, it is called a depressive episode.
An episode may differ in duration. Symptoms of a depressive disorder can linger for a span of many weeks or months. Less generally, episodes of depression can continue for longer than a year. While some individuals experience just one, the majority of people with depression experience multiple symptoms and episodes across their life. When left untreated, like any illness, depression can also slowly exacerbate the symptoms and lead to severe illness, interfering with relationships and work, or cause self-harm or suicide. Individuals with major depression may experience a partial or complete cutback, where their symptoms might go away or even, they may have no symptoms. The typical period of severe depression can last for about 8 months if left fully untreated.
The risk factors for frequent episodes of depression may vary from individual to individual according to their underlying conditions that may affect their mental health. For instance, a person may be suffering from:
- specific symptoms
- genetic history of depression
- personality disorder
- past traumatic events
- absence of emotional and social support
- stressful life occurrences
- presence of another psychiatric condition
All this effect the duration of depressive episodes. Many depressive disorders can persist for years if left untreated. Symptoms usually remain for a few months and then are marked by a severe depressive episode. Episodes of depression also vary according to what type of depression it might be.
Dysthymia which is also known as persistent depressive disorder, is a minor form of depression that lasts in adults for 2 years or more.
Seasonal depression, or SAD is a disorder that is influenced by seasons. It typically lasts around the winter months and decreases through spring and summer.
Bipolar disorder may alter among different individuals depending on their routine factors, and is expected to continue before proper treatment is shown to be successful.
Major depression disorder is another common form of depression that take the time of at least 2 weeks to be diagnosed through identified symptoms of loss of interest in activities and/or low mood in an individual.
Melancholia is also another form of severe depression that may involve both mental and physical lows or slowing down and can last for weeks or in some cases even months.
Severe depressive disorders may be particularly chronic, with at least half of those suffering one episode of depression in their lifespan might be getting one or more further episodes. On average, episodes which have been left untreated last several months. Yet severe depressive episodes may continue for any amount of time. And, during an episode, symptoms may differ in severity. This may become persistent (long-lasting) if depression is not treated. Treatment can cut a depressive episode’s duration and intensity. How long the illness persists depends on variables related to lifestyle and whether the person seeks timely care or not. It can last some weeks, months, or years.