According to the Healing from Depression website, about half the people whoÃ•ve had one major depressive episode will need help with depression again. A relapse of depression is often triggered by the same underlying causes as the first episode. Similar to fighting off a cold or the flu, however, certain steps can aid in depression relapse prevention.
Depression Relapse Prevention
The first step in depression relapse prevention is understanding what triggers your symptoms of depression, including an:
Some of these may be unavoidable, such as the loss of a loved one or even a pet. When these tragedies happen, turn to a trusted friend, family member or therapist for help. You should also learn stress management techniques, because stress can trigger a relapse of depression. Other triggers for symptoms of depression include:
- Being around argumentative people
- Being exposed to extremely hot weather or conditions (such as being inside a car on a hot day)
- Eating too much sugar or unhealthy foods
- Not getting enough sleep
- Taking on too many projects at once
- Watching violent or emotionally overwhelming movies.
Symptoms of Depression Relapse
How will you know when you need help with depression again? Depression relapse prevention begins with recognizing the triggers and the three stages of symptoms of depression: early warning signs, the beginning of a crisis and a major crisis.
Early warning signs include subtle changes in thoughts, feelings or behaviors. If you notice symptoms of depression such as disruption of your sleep pattern or persistent sadness, try the following:
- Adhere to your normal sleeping routine.
- Follow your daily exercise routine.
- Nurture yourself, whether itÃ•s going for a long nature walk, talking with a friend or taking a day off from work to relax.
- Speak with your therapist about your stressors.
The beginning of a crisis occurs when symptoms of depression begin to interfere with your daily functioning. This is the time to reach out for support. If the crisis worsens despite your efforts:
- Call your doctor or psychiatrist to see if your medication levels should be adjusted (if you’re taking antidepressants).
- Call your therapist or counselor for emergency help with depression.
- Have someone stay with you until symptoms of depression diminish.
- Monitor your thoughts, and remind yourself that negative thoughts are part of the disease.
- Nurture yourself.
- Take three days off from work and other responsibilities.
If symptoms of depression continue to progress into stage three, the major crisis (such as a clinical depressive episode), take the same steps as in stage two. Surround yourself with trustworthy people, in case you become so severely disabled by the depression you’re no longer able to make medical decisions for yourself. Your friends, family or therapist may recommend inpatient help with depression.
Remember that a relapse of depression is treatable. No matter how severe your symptoms of depression, you’ll recover. Be hopeful, and once you begin treatment, you’ll begin to feel better.
Fast, J. (2009). What is depression relapse and can it happen to me? Retrieved May 17, 2010, from the Healthy Place website: www.healthyplace.com/depression/depression-treatment/what-is-depression-relapse-and-can-it-happen-to-me-gsd/menu-id-68/.
Healing From Depression Staff. (2010). Relapse prevention. Retrieved May 17, 2010 from the Healing From Depression website: www.healingfromdepression.com/relapse-prevention.htm.