• Question: Can you be 'cured' of depression or is it always there but often repressed?

    Asked by mashiyath to Ben, Sam, Rose on 22 Jun 2017.
    • Photo: Ben Kenward

      Ben Kenward answered on 22 Jun 2017:

      Ooh, that’s a tricky one for me because I am no specialist on depression. I believe it probably depends on the individual. Different peoples’ depression occurs for different reasons. A good illustration of that is how some people respond very well to chemical treatments, but other people don’t respond at all. One reason for that is that for some people depression is caused mainly by a chemical imbalance in the brain, whereas for others mainly negative life events caused the depression. I do know for sure that some people can be cured and it doesn’t come back, but for others it might. I suspect the chemical balance version might well be more of a problem for coming back, as genetic factors are involved.

    • Photo: Sam Carr

      Sam Carr answered on 23 Jun 2017:

      Well, I’ve read many, many studies that have shown that “depressive symptoms” (so, the indicators of depression, like low mood, lack of motivation, loss of sleep, apathy etc) do seem to improve significantly over time with “treatment.” And this “treatment” can be anything from psychotherapy, CBT, exercise programmes, mindfulness, animal therapy, art therapy, and meditation (or a combination of these treatments).

      All of the above treatments have been shown to effectively reduce depression- but they usually last for about 12 weeks – and nobody checks whether the patients actually experience a “relapse” of their depressive symptoms over the next few years. Studies tend to suggest that relapse is likely – suggesting that depression isn’t perhaps ever “cured” – but that it is something that we may be prone to experiencing (some people more than others) over the course of our lives and that we may need to learn to manage and accept – as opposed to expecting to “eliminate” it.