Recurrent Brief Depression: (Everything You Need to Know)

In this guide, we are going to comprehensively overview the potential contributing factors of recurrent brief-depression, symptoms, treatment options and self-help techniques.

Depression is one of the most prevalent mood disorders, in which there is a persistent feeling of hopelessness and a generalized loss of interest in activities, which can lead to various problems. However, recurrent brief-depression lasts for a specified period. This episode of depression primarily affects a specific period or aspect of people’s thinking, behavior, and feelings, which can lead to a variety of solutions. 

Recurrent Brief Depression: An Overview

There are emotional and physical problems associated with this psychological ailment. Mental illness is not a temporary weakness that you snap out of in a short period. Instead, psychological ailments operate more like a constant and recurring feeling, which may require a complete long term treatment. However, there is no need to be discouraged as it can be held back with medication, psychotherapy, or both of the foundational solutions.  

Let’s look at the story of Rosaline. She used to have unstable relationships and work-life, which led to self-destructive trauma. She always turned out to be an under-achiever, and at the age of 15, was sent to a residential treatment facility. She was assessed by mental illness professionals who treated her mode swings issue through psychotherapy. 

The clinicians started by bringing up a streamlined approach for managing Rosaline’s mood swings. After 9-months of treatment, she decided to stop taking her medication and felt much better. She was able to learn various coping strategies from the psychologists that enabled her to deal with the brief-depression recurrence.

Commonly Observed Symptoms:

There are several commonly observed symptoms in a typical case of recurrent brief-depression. Depression usually manifests in brief-episodes and would mostly occur on a day to day basis for an extended period. 

Some of the common symptoms of this disorder include:

  • Feelings of anxiety: Such anxiety-related symptoms occur along with profound feelings of emptiness and hopelessness for no apparent reason. The feelings of anxiety may also be accompanied by extreme restlessness during the day. 
  • Lashing out: This behavioral outburst may happen for no apparent reason. Moreover, it could happen because of a single occurrence and can happen by the smallest matters available.
  • Diminished interest: The sufferer usually loses interest or experiences a reduced interest in day-to-day activities (such as sports, sex, parties, etc.). 
  • Disturbed Sleep-Cycle: In recurrent brief depression, it is very common to experience disturbances in the typical pattern of sleep. These sleep disturbances may manifest as a comorbid condition, such as insomnia or hypersomnia. 
  • Disturbed Food-Intake: Reduction of appetite, or increased cravings and food intake is a commonly observed symptom in individuals suffering from mood disorders (specifically, clinical depression). 
  • Affected Cognition: In patients of recurrent brief depression, instances of slow thinking accompanied by the atypical body movements or speaking problems may occur. The patient may also experience a hard time making everyday decisions. 
  • Low Affect: Feelings of guilt, worthlessness is very common in people suffering from recurrent brief depression. This would include feeling like a failure and instances involving self-blame. 
  • Suicidal Ideation or Suicidality: The individual suffering from recurrent brief depression may experience frequent and recurrent thoughts of death and/or suicidal ideation. 

These are some of the most commonly observed signs of the psychopathological profile of recurrent brief-depression. These problems may manifest as complicated pathological profiles and may exacerbate or lead to unexplained problems in the sufferers. By observing similar symptoms, an individual can easily assess whether he or she is suffering from recurrent brief depression and may need help to resolve the problems. 

The symptoms of recurrent brief depression are usually severe enough that it can easily lead to hampered psychosocial well being and general functioning of the sufferer. Therefore, it requires immediate clinical treatment, in order to resolve the underlying issues or to manage it effectively. However, these symptoms can vary substantially, within different age groups and have unique presentations from one individual to another. 

Symptom Presentation in Children & Adolescents:

Recurrent brief depression is prevalent in multiple age groups (with unique symptom profile); these groups include children and teenagers. This variation in symptoms is important for clinicians and treatment planning because it helps to specify problem-specific goals and interventions for the patients. Having an insight into the problems of patients is of paramount importance that dictates the success of the therapeutic relationship. 

In children, depression may often be confused with laziness and may be due to the negligence of parents or primary caregivers. Some of the most common excuses which children use during an episode of depression include an outright refusal to go to schools.

Children suffering from recurrent brief depressive episodes tend to be more clingy to their parents and seek their attention all the time. Another significantly disturbing aspect includes being worried or having multiple psychosomatic symptoms, such as aches or physical pain. 

These problems can also surface as being underweight or refusal to attend school. These problematic symptoms show that recurrent brief depression is linked to being socially awkward or uneasy with other people. This is a common thing that can be seen in children, and several definitive preventive measures must be taken to resolve these issues. 

Depression is a common problem that is seen in all age groups and needs solutions that are focusing specifically on the unique problems and requirements of a patient. This is a problem that first needs to be resolved in the youngest and requires better-adapted approaches to bring out appropriate result or improvement in the prognosis. 

However, recurrent brief depression can have an absolutely unique pathological profile in adolescents. This is because the overall symptom-profile may have precipitated anxiety and feelings of being negative, over-evaluated and irritated by the overall ongoing activities. 

This can lead to poor performance in studies, and these teenagers become extremely sensitive to their surroundings. In recurrent brief depression, students may also exhibit a tendency to incur self-harm and demonstrate a loss of interest in their own life. Comorbidity with eating disorders is also an important aspect when dealing with clinical depression. 

Symptom Presentation in Adults

In adults, the symptoms of recurrent brief depression strikingly different than the symptomology observed among minors (children and adolescents). 

One of the biggest mistakes which people make is that they believe depression and mental illness to be a normal part of their adult life. It is an extremely wrong concept, as psychopathology should never be taken lightly. Because of the prevalent societal stereotypes, people feel bad about seeking help and consider themselves abnormal or ‘weak’, in comparison to others. However, these are all myths that make it difficult for a sufferer to seek help in time. 

Some of the most obvious signs of depression in older people are enlisted below:

  • Memory Deficits: Loss of memory about common/everyday matters or things, accompanied by gradual personality changes. 
  • Psychosomatic Symptoms: These include various physical aches or physical pain that may be localized, recurrent and/or generalized. 
  • Suicidality: People who are suffering from recurrent brief depression may also experience suicidal ideation or thoughts about ending their life or inflicting harm on themselves. 
  • Limited Socialization: Another important issue associated with recurrent brief depression is the lack of interest to socialize. Patients would prefer staying at home and instead of attending social gatherings and interacting with people. 
  • Other Problems: Fatigue, loss of appetite, as well as sleep-related problems are commonly observed in individuals suffering from recurrent brief depression. People also tend to lose their interest in sex, which is not related to any other physical medical condition.

The sufferers may also develop permanently damaged affect, feelings of loneliness, feelings related to guilt and loss of interest in any kind of excitement in their lives. 

Moreover, it is important that none of the symptoms mentioned in this guide have been ignored as they increase the vulnerability to self-destructive trauma. Therefore, it is important to understand the unique needs and pathological profile of each individual suffering from recurrent brief depression.

Major Causes of Recurrent Brief Depression

It is also seen that many causes can lead to any of the symptoms of recurrent brief depression. Some of the important causes include:

  • Biological Differences: Biological differences in the brain as there is still uncertainty to that cause, but it is still considered a problematic issue in medical science. 
  • Neurotransmitters: Another important cause of this problem can be the individual brain chemistry supported via neurotransmitters, which are occurring naturally to play a vital role in depression. A huge body of research has maintained a proper approach in terms of the pertinent role that neurotransmitters play to maintain control of this situation.
  • Hormonal Imbalance: The leading cause of recurrent brief depression is hormonal imbalances and triggering emotions. This is seen to exacerbate all the depression-related issues in people.
  • Heredity: Another important and common cause of this disorder is heredity. People who have this condition have a medical history of it from their parents or even grandparents. Several research studies have tried to explore the major causes of this kind of depression.

Individuals who are suffering through recurrent brief depression must seek psychiatric help as soon as possible, in order to have their detailed psychopathological profile chalked out. 

What are the Complications?

There are complications found in every disorder in medical history. Similarly, recurrent brief depression also involves numerous complications, such as:

  • People suffering from recurrent brief depression may also develop anorexia or bulimia. 
  • They can also undergo social isolation leading to suicidal thoughts.
  • This kind of depression also tends to lead up to serious problems such as cancer, strokes, and heart diseases. 
  • There has to be a check and balance to take high blood pressure medications or even sleeping pills.
  • There can be self-mutilation involved for people who are involved in this kind of trauma. 
  • Teenagers going through recurrent brief depression can lead to premature death due to their medical conditions.

How to Prevent or Minimize the Risk?

Sadly, for recurrent brief depression or any other kind of mood disorders, there are no fixed preventive measures that may effectively prevent or stop them immediately. However, different steps can slow down the process. Some of the important methods to prevent it involve:

  • Reaching out and talking to family and loved ones about the personal problems as well as the issues which you re going through.
  • Seeking the associated treatment as soon as possible so that there cannot be any measure taken to increase it. 

These are some of the measures which you can use to prevent any of your problems and increase better outcomes for yourself. 

Are You Reluctant to Seek Help?

In case of feeling any of the above-discussed symptoms, you need to see a psychologist or psychiatrist and receive professional help as soon as possible! This is because in order to manage the pathological presentation of recurrent brief depression, dedicated and well-devised treatment plans and interventions are required. 

If you are feeling a bit reluctant to seek proper professional help for what you are going through, you can always talk to a loved one so that you would be able to gain maximized help. You can also approach a faith leader of your preference to share your associated problems and seek answers for the desired solutions for your mental illness. 

In case of any emergency, call your local emergency number and don’t shy away from sharing any of your problems. It is recommended that you do not take any rash decisions and keep faith that there are numerous solutions for people going through recurrent brief depression. There is always a window in the darkroom for people who are going through such problems.  

Some Self-Help Resources:

  1. How to Be Happy (Or at Least Less Sad): A Creative Workbook”…this book utilizes a series of engaging prompts and enables the reader to see things from a different perspective, by rediscovering the joy in everyday activities.
  1. The book entitled, “Get Out of Your Own Way: Overcoming Self-Defeating Behavior” is also an amazing read that outlines several self-help strategies to overcome as many as 40 self-defeating behaviors. 
  1. Another great book is “Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Master Your Brain and Emotions” which walks you through various techniques of CBT. 
  1. You may also find this book interesting, “How to Stop Feeling So Damn Depressed: The No BS Guide for Men
  1. The book entitled “The 10-Step Depression Relief Workbook: A Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Approach” enlists a detailed 10-strategies to deal with depression, a personal plan outline and various self-help exercises for helping people struggling with clinical depression or related disorders. 

In a nutshell, depression is extremely common, and it is high time that people start to acknowledge it as an important problem for themselves. There are various symptoms and ideas presented in this paper, which gives an idea that these can be solved through different stages, and there should be diagnostic help taken as soon as possible to solve them. This encourages solutions for going through anxiety. 

People in different age groups go through depression, and different ways can be used by them to fight it. When it comes to mental health, there should be no negligence and always a hurry to fund the appropriate solutions. You should approach psychiatric help to solve your issues as soon as possible. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What does recurrent episode mean?

A recurrent episode in brief depression has repeated or multiple episodes of depression and no history of an independent episode or mania (or mood elevation). To diagnose a recurrent episode, there should be at least one episode that lasted for two or more weeks and must be at least two months before the recent episode started.

Q2. Do antidepressants prevent relapse?

Yes, it may decrease the likelihood of experiencing a relapse. According to a statistic around 16% individuals suffer a relapse for an average of 44 weeks as compared to a 36% suffering from a relapse after a 20 weeks antidepressant usage. 

Q3. What is the difference between relapse and recurrence?

The terms of ‘relapse’ and ‘recurrence’ are very common when it comes to brief depression or other mood disorders and may often be used in interrelated contexts. Specifically, relapse refers to a complete return of the symptoms (after the remission period and recovery has been in place). On the other hand, recurrence is simply about another episode of depression after recovery has been in place.  

Q4. How long does a depression last?

For depression the episode may last for four to eight months if it is major depressive disorder. While for brief depression it may be as short as 3 days. 

Q5. Do SSRIs change your personality?

Not really, as the observed changes in personality have been attributed to the altered or enhanced affect (mood). 

Q6. How long does it take for SSRIs to influence the brain functioning?

SSRIs can function as fast as within merely 3 hours of time and that is applicable to a single dosage instance. 


  1. An overview of depressive disorders
  2. What to do If you are depressed?
  3. An Overview of Recurrent Brief Depression
  4. Recurrent Brief Depression: Is it a valid diagnostic category?
  5. Recurrent Brief Depression, Past and Future
  6. Recurrent Brief Depression Revisited
  7. All about Depressive Disorders