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FAQ: How Long Does Depression in Children Last?


Updated October 17, 2012

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Question: How Long Does Depression in Children Last?

Answer: As unique as a child is, so is the course of her depression. According the the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the length of a major depressive episode in children and adolescents may last between 1 and 12 months.

The average length of dysthymic disorder in children is 3 to 4 years.

Various factors play a role in how quickly your child will recover from depression. However, she will likely recover more quickly with treatment, which is why early and appropriate depression treatment is essential.

Even if your child's depressive symptoms improve with treatment, she may need to continue on a treatment plan for several years. Maintaining the remission of depression is an important phase of her treatment plan.


Boris Birmaher, MD, David Brent, MD, et al. Practice Parameter for the Assessment and Treatment of Children and Adolescents With Depressive Disorders. Journal of American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. November 2007. 46(11). 1503-1526.

Rongrong Tao, Jarrette K. Moore, Taryn L. Mayes, Graham J. Esmile. Depression in Children and Adolescents: Optimizing Treatment. Pediatric Health. December 2007 1(2): 217.

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  8. How Long Does Depression Last

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