Depression facts

What are the risks and what can psychology do? Facts regarding reoccurrence, success of treatment, and length between episodes.

By Hara Estroff Marano, published January 3, 2003 - last reviewed on June 9, 2016

Depression is a highly recurrent illness. Current thinking holds that the most important factor influencing recurrence is failure to completely resolve symptoms during treatment. Many experts insist that drugs are not used long enough or agressively enough. Even so, other factors play a role. Never-married people are more likely to relapse than married folk. And women More so than men, because their depression Tends to be accompanied by other disorders, such as anxiety.


in months, period of antidepressant treatment recommended for a first episode of depression.


in months, average duration of an antidepressant prescription.


percentage of depressed persons who do not respond to the first drug tried for treatment.


in years, average length of time between episodes of major depression.


percentage of persons with major depression who relapse within 15 years.


increase in likelihood of recurrence with each prior episode of depression.