“Do you know, depression affects around 7 percent of adults in the United States every year?”
Depression relapse is a condition when a person slides back into depression during recovery from an earlier episode. The chances of relapse are more within 2 months of stopping treatment for a previous episode.
Early signs of a depression relapse
A person can often recognize the warning signs of depression from their previous episodes. However, the symptoms of a new episode can vary. Here are some key warning signs of depression:
- Feeling empty, sad, or hopeless.
- Social withdrawal such as avoiding social situations and losing touch with friends.
- Loss of interest in things usually enjoyed such as hobbies or sex
- Changes in sleep patterns such as excessive sleeping or insomnia
- Fatigue: Taking too much time or feeling difficulty in doing regular chores such as bathing and dressing in the morning.
- Feeling agitated: Restlessness, pacing.
- Changes in appetite: Increase in appetite or loss of appetite.
- Increased irritability: Getting annoyed more easily than usual.
- Feeling worthless and guilty
- Concentration and memory problems: Difficulty in making decisions.
- Physical aches and pains: Unexplained headache, stomach ache, or muscle pain.
- Having suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts
Possible relapse triggers
People with a history of depression have more chances of experiencing relapse triggers in comparison to those who have never experienced depression. Common triggers for depression relapse or recurrence include:
- Partial recovery from the last episode of depression. Depression is more likely to return if the main symptom is not treated properly. Moreover, depression is not always a quick fix. You must follow your treatment for at least 6 months to reduce the risk of relapse.
- Any stressful life event happened during or after recovery. This can be relationship changes, family conflict, and grief.
- Medical conditions, such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease increase the risk of future depression.
Treatment for depression relapse
A depression relapse can be treated in various ways, sometimes through a combination of therapies.
Your doctor may recommend you antidepressants to treat depression, including:
- Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
- Norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRIs)
Your doctor may recommend you antipsychotic medicines, anti-anxiety drugs, mood stabilizers, or stimulants too. You can use a free prescription discount card to buy any of these prescribed drugs.
Your doctor may recommend you counseling along with anti-depressants to treat depression.
The two commonly used therapies are:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): Helps identify patterns and change negative beliefs and behaviors that contribute to depression. Replacing these patterns with better thoughts and actions can help you avoid depression trap.
- Interpersonal therapy (IPT): This therapy helps you understand and work through difficult relationships or interactions with people that may be contributing to your depression.
Both of these therapies, help you understand your problems responsible for depression. You learn better ways to manage your thoughts and feel less depressed.
#3. Electroconvulsive therapy
In case of severe conditions, the doctor may recommend electroconvulsive therapy. This therapy includes giving general anesthesia to the patient, along with a muscle relaxant to prevent body movement. ECT passes an electrical current through the brain to induce a seizure. Doctors’ think that this treatment changes the functioning and efficiency of brain areas that regulate emotion.
Some other brain stimulation therapies that can treat severe depression are repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) and vagus nerve stimulation (VNS).
Maintenance Treatment: Preventing More Episodes
To prevent further episodes of depression relapse, doctors’ sometimes recommend maintenance therapy, especially if the patient has a high risk for a recurrence. This ongoing treatment can last for one year or longer.
How to Help Yourself?
Here are some steps that you can follow to cope with depression:
- Exercise regularly
- Spend time with your family and friends. Don’t isolate yourself and let others help you.
- Go for a movie or any sporting event
- You can join yoga, swimming, or dance class
- Set realistic goals for yourself
- Accept your condition and visit a doctor
- Don’t take major decisions yourself such as changing city or job, getting married or divorced. Ask help from your family members, until you feel better
- Be optimistic