Style Guidance home / Mental Health, Trauma, and Substance Use


Last updated


Remission can be used in the context of mental health, physical health, or substance use. For psychiatric conditions like depression, it describes a period in which a person has stopped having symptoms. A full remission is a complete absence of symptoms, while a partial remission means the symptoms are present at a low level.

Remission may be used to describe shorter periods without symptoms. If a person does not experience symptoms for many months on end, they are said to be in recovery. Experts disagree on when a period of remission turns into recovery; some say a few months, while others say a year or more. This is why “remission” and “recovery” are often used interchangeably. Some studies also suggest that the term recovery can encompass more than just an absence of symptoms, for instance higher social functioning.

In a substance use context, “remission” can mean several things. Some define it as a complete abstinence from drug usage. Others define remission as when a person once met criteria for a substance use disorder but has not met that criteria for at least a year (possibly by using drugs less frequently or at a much lower dose).

Additional resources


Remission refers to a state in which symptoms have disappeared or become negligible and can refer to mental health, physical health, or substance use. “Remission” and “recovery” are often used interchangeably.

Related terms