Last reviewed 01/2018

The risk of recurrent or chronic depression following an index episode is high.

Most patients make some recovery:

  • 50-60% make at least a brief recovery within a year
  • 90% make a recovery within 5 years

If a weighted average of mood is taken over the longer term then it is apparent that recurrence is common:

  • 43% are improved at one year
  • only 24% are improved at 5 years
  • 25% will become depressed again within one year of an index episode
  • 75% will eventually have recurrent depression

Chronic depression is common:

  • 25% of depressed patients will become chronically depressed


  • Angst, J. (1997). A regular review of the long term follow up of depression. BMJ, 315, 1143-4.