Depression Relapse: 10 Signs


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Depression can show up as both a cluster of related symptoms and a persistent mental health condition. Major depressive disorder (MDD) is extremely common, though individual experiences with it can look very different. It shows up for different reasons, and each person’s symptom profile is unique. The good news is that recovering from depression is possible. 

Unfortunately, about half of depression cases come with relapses. At least 50% of people who’ve had one depressive episode have at least one additional episode in their lifetime. After two episodes, the chances of having another go up to about 80%. If you do end up having a depression relapse, you’ll be familiar with skills and treatments that are helpful for you.

10 signs of a depression relapse

Some people don’t recognize that they’re having a depression relapse until their ability to function is impaired. It’s important to be aware of your moods and the depression symptoms that tend to show up when you’re not feeling your best. 

If you’ve struggled with major depression in the past, it’s important to prioritize your ongoing mental health and implement strategies to support your well-being. Addressing depression symptoms at their onset can prevent the escalation of a depressive episode, making it easier to recover and potentially reducing the duration and severity of future relapses.

Pay attention to subtle changes in your thoughts, feelings and behaviors. If you notice any of the following signs of depression relapse, seek intervention as early as possible.

  • You’re having a hard time concentrating — Depression can sap your energy and distract you with negative thoughts. Breaks in concentration are often one of the first signs you might be having a relapse.
  • You’re noticing negative thoughts again — Speaking of negative thoughts, you might find yourself going back to the same thought patterns you’ve had during past episodes. If you’re ruminating, talking down to yourself or feeling defeated, it might be a relapse.
  • You’re exhausted — Again, depression eats up a lot of physical energy. It may be a sign of a relapse if you’re feeling tired and you don’t know why.
  • You’re avoiding social situations or self-isolating — Trying to socialize when you’re depressed can be extra difficult. It takes a lot of energy to “mask” your symptoms, and you may be more irritable than usual. If you’re having a relapse, you might feel like avoiding other people altogether.
  • You’re sleeping a lot more (or a lot less) — Whether you can’t get out of bed or you find yourself unable to sleep at night, changes in your sleep patterns can be a sign of relapse.
  • Your appetite is changing — During a depression relapse, you may crave certain types of food, overeat to self-soothe, or lose your appetite. 
  • Your favorite activities aren’t fun anymore — You need glimmers of joy in your life to keep you going. When your favorite things don’t excite you anymore, you could be having a relapse.
  • You’re moving more slowly than usual — Depression slows you down. It could be a sign of a relapse if you notice yourself walking or talking more slowly (or if someone else points it out).
  • You’re irritable about the little things — Snapping at your co-workers, family or friends over things that usually don’t bother you could be a sign of a relapse.
  • You’re feeling down, sad or hopeless — Persistent sadness, hopelessness, or “bad” mood could be a depression relapse.

Recover from your depression relapse at Lightfully Behavioral Health

Battling depression is tough, and you don’t have to do it alone. We’re here to help you get through your depression relapse and start on the path to becoming a better version of yourself. Lightfully clinics are structured to deliver evidence-based, clearly defined, data-driven and whole-person-centered care through holistic, personalized treatment plans.

The recurrent nature of MDD highlights the importance of long-term symptom management, preventive measures and comprehensive support.

At Lightfully, we’ll help you address and alleviate your current depression symptoms. We will also help you implement strategies to reduce the risk of future depressive episodes, promote resilience, and enhance your overall well-being.

Finding the right treatment approach for depression, whether it’s therapy, medication, lifestyle changes, or a combination of these, takes time. If you haven’t yet found an intervention that works for you, or if strategies that have been effective in the past don’t seem to be working for you now, help and hope are available. Reach out to our Admissions Concierge Team. We’ll take the next steps together, toward the fullest, brightest version of you.

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