Long Term Depression: Causes, Symptoms, & Solutions

A fair amount of people may experience depression at some point in their life, but some people experience what is known as long-term depression. This type of depression can have a variety of causes. It is not as severe as major depression, but it can still negatively impact your life without proper treatment. Feeling down every day for years can certainly wear you down, and there are solutions so you do not have to live this way.

It is important to recognize the symptoms of long-term depression so that you can seek help sooner than later. Fortunately, some solutions are more accessible than ever, and if you think you are suffering from persistent depression, therapy is a great option to look into. Once you are diagnosed with long-term depression, a proper treatment plan can be made to keep you on a path to mental well-being.

What Is Long Term Depression?

Long-term depression is a continuous state of depression, often lasting two years or more. With persistent depression, most of your day, most days are spent feeling sad or in an otherwise gloomy mood. It is common and can happen to anyone, and it occurs within the connections of your brain

There are a variety of potential causes, and sometimes it has no cause at all. Persistent depression can strike anyone at any time.

People suffering from long-term depression can be described as constantly complaining or incapable of having fun. You may find yourself unable to feel happy even at exciting times in your life. At other times, you may be unable to feel upbeat to any extent during any positive experiences. 

There are various symptoms to look out for beyond those signs to determine if you may be struggling with long-term depression. These symptoms are also common for major depression, but they can occur daily versus long periods that make them indicators of long-term depression.

Although there are many causes of long-term depression, it depends on the person. 

Read on to learn about potential triggers of long-term depression.


Long-term term depression is known as a persistent depressive disorder; it is believed to be linked to low levels of serotonin. Serotonin is an important hormone in our brains, and it controls our emotions and feelings, and some other bodily functions.

There are other triggers as well that can bring on long-term depression. These potential triggers include physical differences in brain structure, an imbalance of neurotransmitters, family history, and stressful or traumatic life events.

More specific potential causes of long term depression include:

  • Biological differences – There may be physical differences in the brains of people who have long-term depression.

    • Brain structure is how your brain is physically shaped, which can affect long-term how your brain functions. This could affect things like how the connections in your brain process the natural chemicals needed for moods and emotions.

  • Neurotransmitters – Like serotonin, there are other natural chemicals in your brain that, if changed in certain ways, can affect your mood stability.

    • Similar to physical brain structure, the chemicals that you have in your brain and how they interact with connection and other chemicals can affect your moods. If your neurotransmitters are out of balance, how your brain manages emotions will be too. Imbalances can wreak havoc on not just your moods but other physical conditions as well.

  • Family history – It appears that persistent depression is most common in people with a blood relative who also suffers from it.

    • If you know of someone in your family who struggles with a mental illness, it is important to take note of that for yourself. Just like physical illnesses can be genetic or passed down through generations, the same holds true for mental health. Even though it has not been determined if it is connected to genes, there is a link to being predisposed through blood relatives.

  • Life events – As with major depression, traumatic events, loss, stress, or other factors in life can trigger the depressive state.

    • If you have witnessed or experienced trauma, recently had a loved one pass away, got laid off at work, or are having trouble supporting yourself, there is a chance these events may affect your mental health. Once a depressive state begins, symptoms can set in, and if they fail to improve or fade with time, you may be contending with persistent depression.


Long-term depression can go on for years, and the symptoms may not be the same every day. But if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms for an extended period of time, it is a good idea to consult with a mental health professional

This list is not extensive, but some common symptoms of persistent depression are:

  • Loss of interest in regular activities

  • Fatigue

  • Lack of appetite or overeating

  • Feelings of hopelessness or general sadness

  • Low self-esteem and self-criticism

  • Trouble concentrating or feeling unable to make decisions

  • Irritability or anger

  • Sleeping too much or too little

  • Decreased productivity at work or school

  • Avoidance or dreading social events

  • Excessive worry over past events

While these symptoms may come and go or change, it is unlikely with long term depression that symptoms will completely go away for two months or more. If you have tracked your mood, you may notice a pattern or timeline. If not, certain therapies benefit from daily mood tracking.

After considering what symptoms you think you may be experiencing, you can seek a mental health care professional like a therapist for a diagnosis. In therapy, your clinician may use this information to help determine the best treatment plan. There are a variety of different ways to manage or learn to cope with symptoms.


While it may not be completely avoidable, there are a few ways to prevent long-term depression or at the very least help manage symptoms to make it less severe. 

Eating a well-balanced diet, exercising regularly, and limiting or eliminating substance abuse are just a few ways to decrease your risk for worsening symptoms with daily habits. It is also important to do your best to manage stress, and if you are having a hard time coping, take steps to get help with that, whether it be work, family, or other stressors impacting you.

If you are on medications for either persistent depression or anything else, it is vital to take your medications as prescribed. Misusing prescription medications can worsen side effects, but if you are taking them properly and still feel the side effects are too strong for you, you can talk to your healthcare provider about it. There may be a different prescription to try that does not have the same effects on you.

It is crucial to remember that you can be taking all of the preventative steps and still experience long-term depression. Following a healthy routine and taking medications as prescribed can help but cannot necessarily stop depression from happening. 

But, do not get discouraged and give up these positive habits. They can help keep your depression from worsening, and in conjunction with therapy, you can be back to feeling your best.


The best solution for long-term depression is talk therapy and psychiatric help if necessary. 

Fortunately, therapy has never been more accessible than it is now. Even before the pandemic, online therapy was growing in popularity. The need for convenience, lower costs, and more flexibility have been long awaited for those who receive or are still seeking mental healthcare.

Once the pandemic struck and nearly everything went virtual, we truly learned that online therapy is just as effective as in-person therapy. This was groundbreaking as we all saw together that the benefits of taking care of your mental health could be done from your smartphone or computer. Now that mental health care providers can now connect with their patients virtually at a more affordable cost, people that may have put off care in the past now have the option to seek the help they need. 

Online Therapy

With online therapy companies like Mood, you can have weekly talk therapy sessions through a secure video calling platform that functions much like zoom or facetime, for just $39 for your first session and $89 for each session after that. There is no pressure, and you can schedule sessions at your own pace. All you need to take your sessions is a private space and internet connection.

If you need further assistance from a psychiatrist, and medications are part of your treatment plan, you can get that through Mood as well. For just $45 your first month, and $95 per month after that, you receive monthly psychiatric check-ins and markup-free medications delivered straight to your front door. 

Therapy sessions are 50 minutes long for every session. Mood’s clinicians will never end your session early unless you ask to do so. And since it is virtual, you do not need to account for any commute time. Just close your office door at lunch, settle in a quiet space of your home, or even sit by the pool if you wish. 

The convenience of online therapy is unmatched, and you can get right back to your daily life as soon as the session is over.

By putting all of your mental healthcare needs into one place, getting the treatment that you deserve has never been easier. 

Mood’s team is composed of full-time clinicians, all licensed and certified, guaranteeing you the best care through their online practice. You will have an entire qualified team behind you every step of the way treating long-term depression or other struggles.

To get started, all you have to do is take a brief assessment to get matched with a therapist. From there, schedule your first session to fit your schedule, and just like that, you have started therapy! Your treatment plan will be created especially for you and specific to your needs. If you have any questions about it, do not hesitate to ask your therapist.



Long-term depression triggers the selective elimination of weakly integrated synapses | PNAS

Persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia) – Symptoms and causes | Mayo Clinic

Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD): Symptoms, Causes & Management | Cleveland Clinic

How to increase serotonin in the human brain without drugs | NCBI