Psychologist Questions Depression

For how long does a course of treatment for depression normally last?

My son is 18 years old and is undergoing treatment for depression. What is the normal duration for which the treatment lasts?

10 Answers

There is no absolute answer to your question. While there may be genetic factor for depression, my sense is that environmental factors play an important role in depression. My experience tells me that there may be deeper causes of anxiety and depression, that are usually related to personal history. I suggest that you seek professional help to answer some of your questions.
Typically, if your son is suffering mild or moderate depression, treatment may need to be 3-6 months if caught in the acute phase (just begun phase). If it is chronic (been around for awhile like more than a year), treatment may last more than a year. If your son is suffering severe depression, psycho-therapeutic approaches may have limited value on their own. Combinations of anti-depressants/anti-anxiety medications may be required, and a psychiatrist will need to be involved. If medications do not seem to
help, consider looking at transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMI) as an alternative to EST.
Hope this helps.
The answer to your question is almost impossible to answer without knowing the exact diagnosis (there are several "depression" related disorders). For an adjustment disorder with depression, the treatment could last from weeks to months. For a bi-polar type depression, it could last years. My advice is for your son to discuss his diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment course with his psychologist or psychiatrist. Knowing the details of his case, they should be able to offer some opinion.
Thanks for asking and best of luck to your son!

Dr. Bruce Levine
It depends on what you mean by “treatment” as that could mean medication and/or counseling. If referring to counseling, the course of treatment varies from person to person and can depend on factors such as onset and severity of depressive symptoms and engagement in treatment. I would encourage you to have your son ask his mental health provider about his treatment plan. Typically, therapists are skilled at monitoring progress or lack thereof and can change the treatment plan accordingly.
Hi! The length of treatment depends on multiple factors. How intense are his symptoms? Is it situational depression? Is it a developmental issue which is causing the depression? Has he experienced a traumatic event recently or any additional losses? Does he have a close relationship with you?
Depends how bad. Usually some give Medications and see them once a month for years. A good therapist should only see an individual as often as they feel they need the therapist. Remember many therapist will keep their clients as long as they can. It becomes about money and not ethics. But depression can take years or as less as 12 months
Treatment length can vary. It will be dependent upon the severity of his depression, investment in treatment, goodness of fit with his therapist, and if medication is needed. I usually will say 3-4 months of weekly sessions.

Dr. Purewal
Dear Sir/Madam,
You do not say what kind of treatment your 18 year old son is undergoing, i.e., psychotherapy, medication management with a psychiatrist etc. There is not just one cause of depression. Neither is there a "normal duration" of treatment.
Depression could be situational (e.g. a loss), environmental (e.g. being bullied), genetic (e.g. familial), and/or physiological (e.g. related to a health problem). As there are different causes, so there are different modalities of treatment.
So the person providing treatment, for depression to your 18 year old son, would be the one to ask your question as they would have done a thorough evaluation before starting the treatment and will have a better idea.
There are some books that may be of help such as "Feeling Good" by Dr. David D. Burns, "Sugar Blues" by William Duffy, "the Mindful Way through Depression" by Mark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindel Segal, and Jon Kabat-Zinn.
Wishing your son a speedy recovery and a healthy life free of depression. Take care.
Dr. Sonpal
Depends - if medication, when one is found that works, patient takes it for at least a year. If ‘talk’ therapy, depends on the kind used. Sorry can’t be more specific - your son can ask.

Marian Shapiro
Clinical Psychologist
That question is very difficult to answer because everyone is different and responds differently to treatment. It also depends on the treatment. Is he taking antidepressant medication? Is he engaged in counseling?
Statistically speaking, medication alone is not as effective as when it's paired with counseling and if you could only choose one, counseling is more effective and more likely to produce long term benefits. Certainly, if you do not (and he does not) see any improvement within 4-6 weeks, I'd suggest discussing your options with your providers.