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Moving On From Depression: How to Avoid a Relapse

Depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), 17.3 million Americans experienced at least one episode of major depression in 2017. Of those, 63% reported severe impairment on their daily lives during the episode.

What’s more, the chances of a depressive episode returning after treatment are high, according to the American Psychiatric Association (APA). Between 50% and 85% of patients will experience a relapse of a depressive episode in their lifetime.

Graphic source: NIMH


Despite its commonality, depression relapse should not be accepted as fact. By recognizing symptoms of a depression relapse and engaging in activities that can lower your risk of a recurring episode, there is hope to avoid a future depressive episode.

Symptoms of Depression Relapse

Recognizing symptoms of a possible relapse is important to preventing a full-scale recurrence. 

Symptoms can include:

  • Loss of interest in hobbies, sex and other activities you used to enjoy
  • Social withdrawal
  • Increased irritability
  • General fatigue after normal activity
  • Insomnia or excessive sleeping
  • Significantly increased or decreased appetite
  • Inability to concentrate or recall recent events
  • Physical aches and pains
  • Thinking about or planning suicide
  • Any previous symptoms you experienced during your first episode

How to Lower Your Risk of Relapse

The APA defines the first two months following discontinuation of treatment for the original episode of depression as the highest risk period for relapse. To lower the chances of relapse, monitoring for recurrence symptoms and avoiding possible triggers is imperative.

Possible triggers may not be entirely avoidable but being aware of them can prepare you for any impending symptoms or notify you to take extra care of your mental health. Discontinuing treatment, such as skipping therapy appointments or stopping prescribed medications, may result in a relapse episode. Medical conditions, such as diabetes and obesity, have also been linked to depression relapses. Finally, traumatic life events, like the loss of a loved one or a breakup, can cause recurrence of depressive episodes. 

Involving friends and family in your recovery process can help prevent a relapse. By building a supportive community, you are able to discuss any feelings or symptoms early on. If you are unable to recognize these symptoms yourself, a friend or family member may be key to pointing them out to you and catching the early symptoms of an impending depressive episode.

Practicing mindfulness has been proven to help reduce depression relapse by almost 50% when performed three times a week. Practicing mindfulness promotes a personal understanding of one’s emotions and thoughts. Mindfulness can be made easy and accessible with mobile apps such as Headspace and Calm. 

If you feel you are in the midst of a depression relapse episode, all three of our Jackson House locations are equipped with professional staff and available to assist you. Click here to contact our team.

About the author

Jackson House

Jackson House

We built Jackson House because we realized there was a critical gap in our healthcare system and many individuals with mental illnesses and substance abuse problems were struggling because of it. While there are many outpatient treatment options and locked, inpatient facilities there was nothing in the middle. Nothing to help people who needed around the clock care but wanted to receive treatment voluntarily, on their own terms. Jackson House is different. We provide clients with the level of care they need in a welcoming environment. When you walk through our doors, we will meet you wherever you’re at and help you on your journey toward feeling better.

It's time to feel better

We are here to help and we are in-network with most insurance providers. Call us for a free and confidential consultation.

If you’re a provider and need to send us information on a client, please feel free to fax us at 619-303-7044. If you need help immediately, call our 24-hour crisis line at 1-800-766-4274. If you have a medical emergency, call 911. Jackson House is licensed by the State of California Community Care Licensing Division and certified by the Department of Health Care Services. We are also CARF Accredited. If you have any client or quality of care concerns, please reach out to us at (888) 255-9280. If your concerns need further attention, you can contact the Department of Public Health at 619-278-3700 or the Community Care Licensing Division at 1-844-538-8766.