Statistics show about a 50% chance of relapse into depression. It gets higher if you have had more than one bout of clinical depression. After your second bout the chance for a relapse goes up to 70% and after your third it goes up even more to 90%. Preventing a relapse becomes very important after your first bout of depression and the chance to continue falling victim to depression increases dramatically after the first episode. Prevention is simply medical treatment that continues on after the symptoms have gone into remission. It is very important to have a prevention plan and to avoid triggers that could cause a relapse. So what can we do to avoid relapsing into a depression after our first?
The biggest trigger to a relapse is to not follow through with your healing once symptoms begin to go away. Just because you don’t feel them anymore does not mean they aren’t waiting in the wings ready to leap back into your life if you let your guard down. Don’t skip the mental or emotional healing sessions you need just because you start feeling better. If you are having a hard time making it to therapy sessions then speak up and ask for help. If something is creating an uncomfortable side effect, seek out your healthcare professional about your experiences. The key is to find a plan that works for you and keeps you from relapsing back into depression.
Dwelling on negative views of yourself can trigger relapses in patients with a history of depression. Looking at yourself in a negative light and dwelling on past failures or mistakes is counterproductive to your mental health. Cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness-based therapy can help mitigate or eliminate such negative thoughts from intruding into your mind.
Every person’s situation is different and everyone has unique vulnerabilities to their mental and emotional state. You need to identify where you are vulnerable and minimize contact with those persons or places. Also be mindful of special days of the year in your life or holidays where things might be more emotionally difficult than the average day. The stressful holiday season can be a huge factor in the relapsing of depression. Anniversaries of past traumas or injuries can also lead to a relapse, so make sure you plan ahead of time for those periods when you might be more vulnerable.
Keep track of your daily emotional states. This can help you spot a relapse when one occurs and get immediate treatment to help prevent an episode of depression. By being mindful of your emotional and mental states from day to day you can gain control over the disease rather than becoming a victim of it. There may even be some apps to help you catalog how you feel from day to day. If you notice a pattern of negative emotions for 7-10 days then see your doctor immediately and get some help. You may just need to adjust your medication or continue with psychotherapy.
Whether you are reaching out to a specific support group or a group of close friends or family members it is important to remember not to let yourself get socially isolated. Depression can make social situations not feel pleasurable and even be painful. Social isolation is a symptom of a relapse into depression. Be mindful of your habits when it comes to spending time with other people.
Lack of sleep can be a major contributing factor in depression and the relapse into depression. If you are suffering from insomnia or cannot stay asleep once you have fallen asleep then you should see your doctor. Sleep apnea and other disorders can also contribute to poor sleep and the relapse into depression. If you have a physical disorder that inhibits or disrupts sleep let your doctor or therapist know as it may trigger another depressive episode.
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