Does depression go away on its own (or will I feel like this forever)?

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Depression can sometimes feel like it will last forever, making it difficult to imagine a future free from sadness and fatigue. However, conditions like complicated grief can mimic depression symptoms and extend them past what would be considered typical based on social, cultural or religious norms. 

Depression and grief don’t often go away on their own, but there are several ways to treat their symptoms. By understanding the nature of depression and taking the steps to manage it, you can regain a sense of hope for the future.

Please note that if you feel like you can’t cope, you’re having thoughts of suicide, or you’re unable to function in your daily life, you should seek professional help immediately.

What’s the difference between depression and complicated grief?

If you’ve recently experienced a significant loss in your life and have been feeling depressive symptoms that won’t go away, you may be experiencing symptoms of complicated grief. This condition is characterized by a persistent yearning for the deceased, a difficulty moving on, and a sense of disbelief or shock that the person is gone. Symptoms of complicated grief may include difficulty performing daily activities, feeling emotionally numb or detached, and intense sadness or longing. 

Meanwhile, depression is a mental health disorder that is characterized by a persistent low mood, loss of interest in activities, and a variety of physical and psychological symptoms such as fatigue, changes in appetite or sleep, and difficulty concentrating. Depression can occur as a result of a significant loss, but it can also occur independently of any specific event or circumstance. Depending on its severity, your depression may not go away on its own.

It’s possible for you to experience symptoms of both complicated grief and depression, as loss and grief may trigger or worsen your depression symptoms. Both conditions can be highly disruptive to your life and relationships and can make it difficult to function at work or school, or to maintain healthy relationships, over a long period of time. You may also experience the following symptoms as a result of prolonged depression: 

  • Persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness or emptiness.
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities that you once enjoyed.
  • Difficulty sleeping or oversleeping.
  • Changes in appetite and weight.
  • Fatigue or lack of energy.
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions.
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt.
  • Thoughts of suicide or self-harm.
  • Physical symptoms such as headaches, chronic pain or digestive problems.

Does depression go away on its own?

Depression can be caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental and psychological factors. Without addressing these underlying causes, depression may not go away on its own. 

Similarly, for many people, complicated grief can persist for months or even years, and can be highly distressing and debilitating. Without professional help, it can be difficult to overcome the intense feelings of longing and sadness associated with complicated grief, making it close to impossible to go away on its own.

Some of the factors that can contribute to depression and make it difficult for it to go away on its own include:

  • Genetics — Some people may have a genetic predisposition to depression, which can make them more likely to experience the condition. 
  • Biological factors — Depression can be caused by imbalances in brain chemicals such as serotonin, which regulate mood. These imbalances can be caused by chronic health conditions, medication side effects or other factors. 
  • Trauma and stress —Emotionally intensive and distressing events can trigger or worsen depression symptoms. 
  • Psychological factors — Negative thought patterns and a tendency to ruminate on negative thoughts can make it difficult for depression to resolve on its own. 
  • Chronic depression — When depression becomes chronic, it can be more difficult to overcome without treatment, and it can have a more severe impact on daily life. Chronic depression involves depression symptoms that have lasted for at least two years or more.

What can you do if your depression isn’t going away on its own? 

Consistent sadness can be a difficult and overwhelming experience, and it can take a toll on your relationships and social life. If your sadness and grief are affecting your mental health, here are a few things you can do:

  • Seek professional help — A professional therapist can provide support and guidance for coping with your prolonged depression or grief. They can also help you to identify any underlying mental health issues and environmental factors that may be contributing to your sadness. 
  • Reach out to a support group — Joining a support group for people who are grieving or dealing with depression can provide a sense of community, understanding, and validation. It can also give you a space to receive practical advice and coping strategies. In addition, you should seek out a trusted friend, family member, or mentor to talk about your sadness and how it impacts your mental health. 
  • Take care of yourself — Studies show that healthy habits like eating well, exercising regularly and getting enough sleep can ease depression symptoms. You should also try to engage in activities that you enjoy and that bring you pleasure. 
  • Be kind to yourself — Be compassionate and understanding with yourself. Remember that grief and sadness is a process and that it takes time to heal. Cry when you need to, laugh when you feel like it, and try not to suppress any feelings while you’re going through treatment.

Lightfully can help you address your grief or depression that isn’t going away on its own

Therapy can be an effective way to help you cope with feelings of grief and depression, especially if you feel like they won’t go away on their own. A therapist can provide a safe and supportive space for you to process your emotions and work through your feelings of loss. They can also help you identify and challenge any negative thoughts or beliefs you may have about yourself or the world, all of which can contribute to feelings of depression.

Our team of therapists at Lightfully can give you the space and expertise you need to end the cycle of your sadness. When you’re ready to take the first step, reach out to our Admissions Concierge Team. We’ll take the next steps together, toward the fullest, brightest version of you.

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