Depression: Prognosis

Depression is not a benign disorder. It tends to be chronic & patients tend to relapse.

Length of each depressive (unipolar) episode is typically 3-12 months but 10-20% of patients experience depressive episodes longer than 2 years.

Approximately 30-50% of patients with 1st episode do not experience 2nd episode in their lives.

Rest 50-70% experience muliple episodes. About 25% have a recurrence in the 1st 6 months & 25-50% pts in the following 2 years. With each episode, the time between the episodes decreases & the severity of each episode increases.

Depression is also associated with 2-3 times increased risk of developing dementia.

Poor Prognostic Factors:

  1. Male sex
  2. Psychotic symptoms
  3. Substance abuse
  4. Comorbid anxiety
  5. Poor support system.


Absolute risk for commiting suicide is 7% for men & 4% for women.

Life expectancy is decreased approximately 12 years in men and 10 years in women.

***Early intervention, both Psychoeducation & Pharmacological treatment can lower the incidence of relapse & suicide in Depressive patients.


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