Relapse from Depression: Signs of a Depression Relapse

When we hear the term “relapse,” we often think about an addiction relapse where someone who was in a period of sobriety goes back to using drugs or alcohol, but there are other ways the term is used as well.

One is a relapse from depression. The following provides an overview of what a relapse from depression can look like, what the depression relapse symptoms are, and what can be done for depression relapse prevention.

Relapse from Depression | Signs of a Depression Relapse
First, what is depression?

Depression, also called major depressive disorder is a serious mental illness that affects thoughts, feelings, and actions. It’s common and treatable, but if it goes untreated, it can be dangerous.

When someone has depression, they tend to feel sad and lose interest in activities and their life in general, and the symptoms can vary in severity.

Some of the general signs of depression include feeling sad, loss of interest or pleasure, appetite changes, changes in sleep patterns, loss of energy, feeling guilty or having feelings of worthlessness, concentration problems, and thoughts of suicide or death.

For it to be clinically classified as depression, a person has to experience these symptoms for at least two weeks.

It’s important to understand that there is a difference between depression and feeling sad or experiencing grief. For example, if you go through the loss of a loved one, you’re going to feel many of the symptoms of depression, but this isn’t the same as having clinical depression.

There are several risk factors for depression including brain chemistry, genetics, environmental factors, and personality.

While depression is scary, it is also very treatable and the overwhelming majority of people with this condition to respond well to treatment options. Some of the treatments for depression include medication, psychotherapy, and it in medication-resistant cases, something called electroconvulsive therapy.

While treatments do tend to work well for most people with depression, a relapse in depression is also possible. As with many chronic conditions, just because you’re receiving treatment doesn’t mean that you are cured, and you can experience a relapse in depression symptoms.

A relapse is clinically defined as having symptoms that come back after a minimum of four months without symptoms of depression.

A relapse in depression isn’t uncommon, and some research shows that as much as 50 percent of people with treated depression will have at least one relapse in their life.

For some people, they may not immediately notice the signs of a depression relapse occurring, because they may be different from the initial signs of depression they experienced before treatment. It’s important for people to be aware of the depression relapse symptoms and make sure they’re regularly monitoring for them, even when they’re receiving treatment.

It’s also a good idea to have the people around you be aware of possible signs of a depression relapse, because they may see it even before you do.

Some of the signs of a depression relapse include:

  • Feeling angry, short-tempered or generally irritable
  • Losing interest in activities, hobbies, or things that previously held your interest
  • Loss of sexual attraction to your partner or interest in sex
  • Concentration problems or feeling slow or hazy in your thoughts
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Feeling worthless
  • Changes in weight, whether that means weight loss or gain
  • Fatigue
The best thing you can do for depression relapse prevention is make sure that you follow your treatment plan, and also follow any lifestyle changes recommended by your healthcare providers.

You shouldn’t stop your depression medication without first speaking to your doctor, and even if it’s causing side effects, let your doctor know so that you may be able to try a different type of antidepressant.

It’s also important that if you think you experience any depression relapse symptoms, you make an appointment to see your doctor right away.

Another valuable tool for depression relapse prevention is to keep a journal of your moods or any symptoms so that you can spot patterns and trends more quickly if they become problematic.

If you do experience a relapse in a mental health condition, speaking to your doctor right away is the best thing you can do.

Your doctor will work with you to determine if perhaps the addition of therapy is needed, or if you need a different type of therapy from what you’re currently participating in. They may also experiment with different types of antidepressants, which include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors, and serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors.

If you do experience a relapse in mental health, your doctor may change your medication altogether, change your dose, or help you work on new coping and lifestyle strategies.

Relapse from Depression: Signs of a Depression Relapse
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