I was first hospitalized for depression when I was 12. The second time, I was 25. My last hospitalization was a little over five years ago, and I have had many episodes of major depression in between those hospitalizations. There’s a good chance that I could relapse into a major episode, even one requiring hospitalization, again. While this might sound depressing and discouraging, I choose to believe that this awareness allows me to safeguard against future major relapses. For me, preventing depression relapse includes several different actions.
With my many relapses, I’ve learned that it’s important to take time for self-care. For me, this means making sure my spiritual, physical, and emotional needs are met. When I’m off balance with any one of these, my mental health deteriorates.
Mindfulness is present-moment awareness. Using mindfulness to help with depression tunes you into the present moment so you can focus on what you are doing and how you are feeling. When I am mindful of my actions and my feelings, I am able to catch my depressed thoughts before they go careening out of control.
Even after engaging in self-care and mindfulness, we still might find ourselves feeling depressed. If this is the case, it’s important to be gentle and accepting of ourselves and our conditions. When I’m gentle and accepting of myself and not overwhelmed with shame, I’m more likely to reach out and get the help I need. This, in turn, helps me to get better more quickly.
For me, that means not waiting until I’m suicidal to get help. By knowing myself better and my warning signs -- for example, wanting to spend more time in bed or withdrawing socially -- I’m able to get the help that I need in the earlier stages. Have you discovered other ways to help prevent depression relapse? Please let me know in the comments.