Taken care of, depression usually evolves towards recovery after a period of more or less complete remission of symptoms. During this period, relapses may occur. A cured patient may in some cases have recurrences which may evolve over time.
- Partial remission: Clinical signs remain present but are not in sufficient number to meet diagnostic criteria for depression
- Complete remission: Complete absence of symptoms whose persistence over time does not yet allow recovery to be retained
- Recovery: Reappearance during the remission phase of clinical signs in sufficient number to meet diagnostic criteria for depression
- Cure: Complete remission for a sufficient time (2-6 months)
- Recurrence: Recurrence of a new depressive episode after recovery from a previous episode
Recurrences may characterise unipolar depressive illness, or, associated with manic episodes of arousal, fall within the framework of bipolar illness.
Depression can also occur with physical illnesses or psychiatric disorders that are important to identify or treat firsthand.
The risks of depression are also linked to complications, primarily suicide attempts, substance abuse, social and occupational complications.