If you fell off your bike and broke your leg, what would you do? You’d go to the hospital to have an orthopedic specialist assess the injury, treat the damage, and recommend a course of recovery. What you wouldn’t do is go home and wait for your leg to get better on its own. Yet when it comes to depression, many people do just that. Instead of getting the help they need, they hope depression will go away with time. It’s understandable—seeking treatment for a broken leg doesn’t carry the societal stigma that finding support for depression does. But depression needs to be treated as much as any other medical condition, so it’s critical to take steps to find one that works for you. Here’s why you shouldn’t wait longer than you have to when it comes to feeling better.
Do Depressive Episodes Go Away?
When seeking treatment for depression, it’s helpful to understand what a depressive episode is and how it relates to MDD. A depressive episode involves experiencing the symptoms of depression for two weeks or more. If you’re going through a depressive episode, you may feel particularly unhappy, tired, or worthless. You may also lose interest in most activities and experience physical symptoms like appetite changes or sleep disruption. Depressive episodes can be caused by stressful events, psychological trauma, substance abuse, health conditions like chronic pain or thyroid disease, and several other factors.
If you’re experiencing a depressive episode, it’s important to talk to your doctor and work with them to rule out any underlying medical conditions. Sometimes depression symptoms can go away if underlying health conditions are treated. If you’re experiencing recurrent depressive episodes and other causes have been ruled out, Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) may be diagnosed. MDD is a medical condition characterized by recurring depressive episodes with no other underlying physical cause. A depressive episode can sometimes go away on its own, but even if it does, it can take months or years to do so and may return in the future. In the meantime, you’re left stuck with the symptoms. The best way to ensure that it ultimately remains gone is to make sure the root cause, whether MDD or something else, has been treated.
Why It’s Important to Seek Treatment
Depression is usually a long-term condition, and it likely won’t go away without proper treatment. Moreover, depression has been linked to a number of physical conditions such as heart disease, inflammation, gastrointestinal problems, sleeping difficulties, and a variety of chronic diseases. Seeking treatment to manage your symptoms can help prevent these long-term conditions from manifesting or becoming worse. Depression can also affect your work, relationships, and ability to meet personal goals, but effective treatment can help prevent these consequences. There’s also the matter of recurrence to consider. When you’re in remission and no longer feeling your symptoms, it can seem like the depression has gone away, but research has shown that individuals who have dealt with one depressive episode have a 50% risk of experiencing another episode, and that risk increases with each new episode. Maintenance talk therapy can be a useful tool to understand the risk of recurrence and get you into effective treatment before your symptoms become overwhelming.
Treatment for depression can involve medication, talk therapy, or lifestyle changes—or in many cases, a combination of all three. However, some people’s symptoms don’t respond to these frontline treatments. This isn’t uncommon. In fact, one in three people seeking treatment for depression do not respond well to antidepressants. If this is the case for you, you may have treatment-resistant depression. Fortunately, despite the condition’s name, treatment-resistant depression is treatable. If treatments like talk therapy and medication haven’t worked for you, there are other options you can explore, such as Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS). TMS is a non-invasive therapy that uses gentle electromagnetic pulses to stimulate nerve cells in the brain and improve depression symptoms. TMS has few side effects, and it’s an option worth considering when other depression treatments haven’t been effective. To learn more about TMS, schedule your no-cost consultation. With the right treatment and support, you can manage both the physical and mental effects of depression and work toward a symptom-free life.