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Cycles of Depression

author image Jamie Simpson
Jamie Simpson is a researcher and journalist based in Indianapolis with more than 10 years of professional writing experience. She earned her B.S. in animal science from Purdue University and her Master of Public Affairs in public management from Indiana University. Simpson also works as a massage therapist and equine sports massage therapist.
Cycles of Depression
Depression presents itself in cycles throughout a sufferer's life. Photo Credit Purestock/Purestock/Getty Images


Depression affects an individual's physical and mental well-being, according to AtHealth.com. Symptoms and bouts of depression often come and go throughout life. Understanding more about the cycles of depression can help those with the disorder as well as those around them to make informed treatment choices.


In this stage of the depressive cycle, individuals experience no physically visible or emotionally noticeable symptoms of the disorder. According to Mental Health America of Indiana, this stage of the depressive cycle will vary in length depending on the type of depression present in the individual. Some individuals with depression go years between incidents, while others battle symptoms perpetually throughout their lives.

Minor Depressive Episode

According to AtHealth.com, mild symptoms are a part of the depressive cycle. Individuals may not experience a full-blown depressive episode, but they may notice several of the effects of depression present in their lives, such as loss of interest in regular activities, decrease in appetite and a drop in energy levels. According to the "New York Times" Health Section, two to four of the common signs of depression will be present in a minor episode, and these symptoms may persist for as long as two years.

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Major Depressive Episode

As reported in the "New York Times" Health section, major depressive episodes are a key part of the depressive cycle, which may last for at least two weeks, though many episodes last for six months or more. In this stage of the depressive cycle, five or more of the major symptoms and signs of depression will be present. According to Mental Health America of Indiana, individuals who do not have bipolar disorder will move from this stage of the cycle back to stasis.

Manic Episode

For individuals who have manic or bipolar depressive disorders, an additional cycle stage is present. Known as the manic stage, this part of the depressive cycle is characterized by extremely outgoing and animated social behaviors, often coupled with feelings of euphoria and invincibility, according to AtHealth.com.

Return to Stasis

In this final stage of the depressive cycle, individuals return to a steady mood state. According to Mental Health America of Indiana, this return can be motivated by a life change or medication. It may last for a lifetime or only a few weeks depending on the type of depression present in the affected individual.

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