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How to Prevent Relapse and Recurrence of Depression

Preventing Relapse and Recurrence of Depression

Depression is something which tends to return over a time even if it is diagnosed initially and have been successfully treated. This fact can prove to be quite discouraging if someone is at the early stage of depression. The fact associated with it can be a good news, as relapses/recurrences of depression are common but steps can be taken to minimize the effect and it can even be prevented altogether.

Can Depression Recur

While there are treatments available for depression, it is important to understand that the illness can come back. In fact, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), more than 50 percent of people who have had one episode of depression will have another one at some point in their lives. [ Read the article ]

So, relapse and recurrence are common among those with depression, and so, it should not be taken as a single episode and then forgotten. Rather depression is such a kind of a problem which requires you to be vigilant and care needs to be taken.

Why Does Depression Recur

There is scientific evidence which makes us to view depression as one of the conditions, which requires care over a lifetime and should not be taken as an episodic illness. This approach will make you focus on staying well throughout your life and not just getting well.

Earlier scientific research took depression as an individual disease episode and they focused on how it can be cured through one or more treatment methods. But the now the researchers have found depression as problem which keep coming back in a patient over time. Although the researchers are unable to comment why depression tends to recur and in which patients the changes of recur are more. But there are some recent studies which have thrown some light about how frequently depression returns and what can be the measures to prevent it.

All those patients who are diagnosed with depression have a very significant risk that depression will keep coming back over time. According to studies it has been found that most common event which makes depression recur is discontinuing treatment. Once the patient who starts feeling better after an episode of depression with medication or psychotherapy, they stop the treatment thinking that they are absolutely fine now. As result they stop taking medicines, therapy sessions and even fail to have follow through self-care program. Due to which depression returns in some time and studies also show that each subsequent recurrence of depression tends to be worse than the earlier episode.

How to Prevent Relapse and Recurrence of Depression

Depression is a highly recurrent disorder, with recurring episodes of depression interspersed with periods of remission. However, there are things that you can do to help prevent a relapse or recurrence of depression:
  • Staying in treatment. One of the most important things that you can do to prevent relapse and recurrence of depression is to stay on your treatment plan. This means taking medication as prescribed, attending therapy sessions, and making lifestyle changes that support mental health. It can be difficult to stick to a treatment plan, especially when things are going well. But it’s important to remember that depression is a chronic condition, and it’s important to stay on track with treatment to prevent symptoms from returning.
  • Avoid self-medicating. It is important to avoid self-medicating with drugs or alcohol. This can actually make your depression worse and lead to further problems.
  • Recognize your warning signs. It’s important to understand the warning signs of your depression. This can help you catch it early, and take action early, if it does start to come back. Symptoms may include changes in sleep or appetite, loss of interest in activities, withdrawing from social activities, Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, and thoughts of suicide. If you notice any of these changes, it’s important to seek help from a mental health professional.
  • Be mindful of your triggers. If you know what triggers your depression, try to avoid them as much as possible. Triggers can be different for everyone, but common triggers include stress, hormonal changes, certain medications, and certain health conditions. If you know what causes your depression to worsen, you can avoid these triggers or be prepared to deal with them in a healthy way.
  • Take care of yourself. Taking care of yourself both physically and mentally is important for preventing relapse or recurrence of depression. Make sure to get enough sleep, eat a healthy diet, and exercise regularly. Avoid drugs and alcohol. If you have a history of depression, it is important to be proactive about your mental health. This means regular check-ups with your mental health professional and monitoring your symptoms.
  • Manage stress. Stress can trigger a relapse or recurrence of depression. Find healthy ways to manage stress in your life, such as exercise, relaxation techniques, and social support. (Find here → 10 Ways to Cope with Stress)
  • Build a support network. Having a strong support system is crucial for preventing depression relapse or recurrence. A support system of family and friends can be very helpful. If you start to feel depressed again, don’t hesitate to seek help.
If you’re worried about a relapse or recurrence of depression, talk to your doctor. They can help you create a plan to manage your condition and stay healthy.

As recurrence of depression is quite a significant factor to be considered, thus it is required to plan for an early diagnosis and treatment of depression, and with the help of healthcare team along with the patient and family members, an effective and prevention strategy should be developed in order to prevent relapse of depression.

As research reports say that chances of relapse/recurrence are highest when medication is stopped and it has also been found that there is some significant health risk also associated with abrupt discontinuity of antidepressant medication. So, it should be kept in mind that the medication should not be stopped abruptly, even if it is required to stop medication it should be done gradually.

While the benefits of psychotherapy may last for a longer time period, but it is advice to continue with it to avoid relapse/recurrence even when the depression symptoms subside. Researchers are still not able to tell which treatment is best for recurrent depression, but they suggest that combination of medication and psychotherapy is quite effective together. Instead of going for single method of treatment it is better to opt for combination of medication and psychotherapy.

Some of the key method of preventing relapse and recurrence of depression is to continue with the treatment for a long time – perhaps it should be for rest of your life, as it is the way to keep a check on depression. Especially for those patients who have faced multiple episodes of depression. So it can be said you should continue with the treatment in good as well as bad days, this will help you to cope with unavoidable circumstances and will also reduce the chance of relapse and recurrence of depression.


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