Does Depression Ever Go Away On Its Own?
One research study out of the Netherlands, reported in The British Journal of Psychiatry, looked at the progress of 250 people experiencing one episode of clinical depression, the majority of which were female and were experiencing an episode of recurrent depression. Recurrent depression refers to another depressive episode after recovery had previously been achieved.
Some of the patients in the Netherlands study sought treatments, and some did not. What the researchers found was most of the patients had recovered either completely or were experiencing few depressive symptoms, after three months, regardless of the treatment they did or did not receive.
The researchers concluded the people who recovered on their own did because they were less depressed and less incapacitated by depressive symptoms. And it is possible that the ones who sought help did so because they were more depressed and took longer to recover.
Depression Is Related to Underlying Factors
The bottom line is depression – at its core – is related to underlying factors, which need to be addressed for it to go away.
Doing proactive things, such as taking medications prescribed by your doctor, exercising, eating healthy, being social and expressing emotions in healthy ways, can reduce the intensity of depression and eventually, these symptoms may resolve.
And if your depression is related to specific situations, such as a stressful job or a troubling relationship, removing those factors from your life may also help in resolving depressive symptoms.
But depression does not just disappear on its own without serious effort or changes. In other words, you cannot just shake it off.
Recovery from severe depression requires a whole lot of willpower and effort. That is where the support of loved ones and a therapist is necessary and valuable to managing symptoms and hopefully, putting an end to them for good.
How Do You Help Yourself?
Recovery from depression can be a long process. You have a variety of treatment options for depression, but it will take time to notice some effect.
And while you and your doctor are trying to find the right treatment plan, depressive symptoms can worsen. Fortunately, there are things you can do to help yourself and relieve depressive symptoms in the meantime, and also to resolve depressive feelings should they return.
- Be kind to yourself. When people are depressed, it can be easy to think they shouldn’t feel this way, or they can do something to change their mood or push through. Beating yourself up only makes you feel worse, so it is okay if you need to time to heal, or if you are not fun to be around, or even if you want to be left alone.
- Baby steps. Your depression isn’t going to get better overnight, and there is nothing you can do to rush your recovery, so take it slow. If all you have the strength for today is to shower and sit on your couch, then do that, but tomorrow, try to enjoy a cup of tea on your front park, go for a walk the next day, and so on.
- Get moving. If can, try to squeeze some exercise into your day, as it does wonders for your mood. It does not need to be anything heavy duty, just take a walk to clear your head.
- Stop telling yourself it’s too hard. Depression makes you want to fill the pain and emptiness with food, sleep, sex, work, alcohol or drugs. Stop telling yourself filling the void is the answer, or that getting better is too hard because you know what you need to do to move on; it is time to get your courage on.
- Think positive thoughts. Asking a depressed person to feel positive is like asking a colorblind person to see red or green. But sometimes, just saying to yourself something positive, such as “I am doing great,” or “I feel fabulous,” can make your experience with depression a little easier.
- Write it down. Describing how you feel can help you distance yourself from those emotions. Just start writing, and it is your choice if you want anyone to see what you have written.
- Talk it out. If you have a friend, who can listen to you vent, without offering advice or suggestions, ask them to be a sounding board. Sometimes, getting out those feelings can allow some of the negative emotions to pass, and it also makes you feel less alone.
- Cry if you need to. Crying doesn’t mean you are giving up or that you are weak. Crying is very therapeutic because it allows you to let go of sadness, tension, and painful emotions.
Depression is not something you can shake off, and it won’t go away on its own. Untreated depression only gets worse with time.
Once you take the steps to get help, there is a good chance you will recover. But remember, recovery involves making changes, following through on treatment, and getting the necessary support so it doesn’t return or becomes easier to manage should it come back.