Can Untreated Mild Depression Lead to Chronic Depression?

Can Untreated Mild Depression Lead to Chronic Depression-

Why treat postpartum depression?

For one thing, untreated depression can lead to long-term, chronic major depression. As reported on the US News & World Report website, the February issue of Psychiatric Services published a study found that four years after being seen for mild depression symptoms by their physicians and screening positive for depression, 62% of those who did not go on to receive treatment ended up with major depression.

“These findings come in the wake of intensive focus by the media on a study reported in January which showed that depressed patients with mild symptoms did not do any better with medication than with placebo, suggesting that patients with mild depression don’t need treatment,” the study’s lead author, Myrna M. Weissman, a Columbia University profession, said in a new release from the American Psychiatric Association. “Of course, patients in a clinical trial are receiving a considerable amount of attention and are not untreated.”

“Our findings suggest that mildly depressed, untreated patients do not have a benign course of illness,” she said.”

When they refer to treatment in this case, it’s my understanding they mean either medication or therapy.

Does this mean every single person who feels bad or has a rough time needs medication or therapy? Of course not. But perhaps physicians need to consider more carefully whether someone does need treatment for PPD and patients need to know they shouldn’t ignore their symptoms.

For more on this and how it relates to postpartum depression, read, Don’t Let the Term ‘Baby Blues’ or ‘Mild Postpartum Depression’ Fool You.

About Katherine Stone

is the founder of Postpartum Progress. She has been named a WebMD Health Hero, one of the fiercest women in America by More magazine, and one of the top 20 Social Media Moms by Working Mother magazine. She is a survivor of postpartum OCD.

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  1. This is good information. I suffered for almost 2 years with no treatment because every time I would go to the doctor regarding how I felt I was shut down and told that I was fine. At the time I was breastfeeding my 10 month old son and I went to see the nurse practioner she told me that she couldn’t help me and that they don’t prescribe medication while breastfeeding. I went back to see her after I was done breastfeeding this was months later she told me that she couldn’t help me to go to the emergency room if I felt bad. This is not okay the way I was treated is not okay and I wouldn’t want anyone else to feel this way.

    • Heather King says:

      Vivian, I’m so sorry to hear that. It’s so frustrating to hear! There are many doctors and other providers out there that are not so uninformed and clueless. You should have gotten the help you needed, and you are not alone in this experience. There’s a long way to go in educating professionals about PPMDs, and we’re so grateful for the many providers out there that understand and treat mothers with respect, providing an excellent treatment plan. I wish that was the most common experience for all mothers!

      • Vivian santana says:

        Thank you I ended calling a phone number on the back of my insurance card. I found a psychologist that was able to help me. I’m currently taking a anti depressant and mood stabilizer. It’s been 6 months and I definitely see a improvement. I have a long way to go and some days are harder than others.


  1. […] first, and we’ve talked about this since 2010 but it was reinforced in the news this week, is because untreated PPD can morph into chronic […]