Often I ask myself about the length of the depression experience and what makes it end. One author quotes someone who asks “When will I feel better?” I asked myself the very same question, with never getting a satisfactory answer. That is, until I read Jonathon Rottenberg’s book The Depths. His work, is my “go to ” guy when I want to learn more about moods and how they affect our daily lives.
Rottenberg, whom I have just finished reading gives us some pertinent information on the subject. He tells us that ” Martin Keller and his colleagues followed a cohort of 431 patients diagnosed with depression – many of them so debilitated that they had been hospitalized over a five year period. Two months into the observation, nearly one in three had recovered from the episode. By six months, over half the patients had recovered ….
Likewise, data from samples that are more representative of the average depressed person in the community, suggest that depression will last a year or less 90% of the time.”
The author,Jonathon Rottenberg, in his insightful and helpful account, Out of the Depths: The Evolutionary Origins of the Depression Epidemic, tells us that the experts have referred to depression as a self-limiting condition, a problem that ends in by itself.
“…But as depression grinds on, vague bromides don’t work so well. For someone at the end of her rope, whose patience is measured in days or hours, it’s the pace of improvement that is critical. Someone who has already the best years of life torn up by depression wants to know, “When will I be better?” Hearing that most people recover eventually, even if it’s true, is not good enough.” We all want to know what can make this recovery possible? With my own personal battle with depression and a feeling that I might never escape that tight hold that it had on my thinking and feelings, I wanted to know how long this journey in “death valley was to continue. As I never got an answer to my question,I continued the trek through the fog. It was about a year and half later that I began to have a rise in my mood. I felt just a tad of cheer and hope as I continued my long walks in the mall where I spent all of my daily mornings before work. Even though I never had a clue as to when I would feel better, I kept waiting for the moment when the gut wrenching pain would be over. When the mood changed for me, from sad to hopeful, my life and moods began to spiral upwards instead of following their usual negative trajectory downwards.
I do know this, that I have lived my life without depression for at least three decades now. I attribute the fact of my recovery to a continued use of a resource, the Depressed Anonymous meeting, plus putting the Twelve Principles of the 12 Steps in action in my everyday life.
Back to the question: “When will I feel better?” When will anybody feel better? I can’t answer that. I wish that I could. I did not know that 90% of persons depressed, do get better in time. That is good news. That is something to share with depressed persons, and sometimes various treatments do help in ending the torment of the depression experience. Even though the experts tell us that the depression experience is self-limiting, this in a small way can provide some hope for the one who has suffered depression all of their life.
Jonathon’s,The Depths, is a work that has a permanent place in my reference library.
Jonathon Rottenberg. The Depths: The Evolutionary Origins of the Depression Epidemic. Basic Books. A Member of the Perseus Books Group. New York. NY.
Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY.