My Experience With Telogen Effluvium Recovery: I've had many episodes of both TE and CTE before I was able to identify my trigger to stop it. In my experience, you see a gradual decline of the shedding as recovery approaches. Here's a specific example. Way back when, I used to count my hairs. I would absolutely tell you not to start this practice. It will only upset you more. It will only make you feel like you will be bald in only a few weeks. It will only make you focus on what's happening right now rather than on recovery.
With that said though, I did used to count. Over the course of say a year's time, I went from shedding well over 250 hairs per day for several months, to then losing around 180 per day. Over the course of a month, I then went down to about 150. Then to about 90. My average after that went down to about 50 where it then stayed for about three months. Today, I might lose around 15 or so, but that includes shampooing and combing. (I am not really sure about these numbers. I don't count anymore. But, I did this for long enough to be able to eyeball the spent hairs and to know approximately how many there are. )
Again, I can not stress enough that you don't want or need to take actual inventory, but as I said, you can eyeball what's lost and know if that amount is lessening or increasing.
What About The People Who Say The Shedding Got Worse Before It Got Better?: If you spend any time on hair loss forums, you know that there are people on there who will tell you that things were darkest before the dawn, that they went from rapid and extreme hair loss to almost nothing over night. I don't doubt these people. But, I think what has likely happened is that they had a very identifiable trigger that they were able to eliminate over night (they stopped taking the medications that were causing this or they healed their inflamed scalp.)
Or, what is sometimes the case is that people introduce a "treatment" that makes the shed worse. They might be adding in some hormones or trying rogaine or a hair growth stimulator that wrecks their scalp. What happens then is that they notice that their loss is getting way out of hand and they finally abandon this. Well, what has happened is that this treatment went ahead and rid them of the hairs they were going to lose anyway all at once, so that when they stop, the loss was accelerated and over in that period of time.
Again, it is possible for TE to worsen before recovery, but in my experience this is the exception rather than the rule. Most people see a gradual reduction until eventually the amount of hair lost returns to normal levels.
How do I know all of this? Because I lived it. In my quest to end my hair loss, I looked at my triggers, my iron, my thyroid, my adrenals, my hormones, and my scalp's health. It was a long, hard, frustrating journey which all but wrecked my self esteem but I finally found something that helped quite a bit. You can read my very personal story at http://stop-hair-loss-in-women.com/