What to do when you have a depression relapse

This article has been submitted to us by Counselling in Melbourne, a Career Money Life Certified Supplier.

Everyone feels sad or low at different points of time in their life. However, depression is not normal sadness. Depression is a mental health condition in which a person feels chronically sad, fatigued, worthless, socially withdrawn and unable to enjoy life. Sleeping patterns and body weight can also be drastically affected.

Many different treatment options are available for the treatment of depression ranging from talking with a psychologist to a pharmacologist. Unfortunately, treating depression does not ensure a “cure” and many times, people who feel that they are “out” of depression or in remission, “fall back in”.  This is known as a depression relapse or recurrence. Nearly 50% people who undergo treatment for depression report that their depression had returned at least once more.

According to the DSM- 5, a relapse is said to occur after a person who has stopped experiencing depressive symptoms for a period no less than 4 months, starts experiencing symptoms of depression again. These symptoms may be similar or different to those they experienced during their first episode of depression.

A study was carried out in Australia to understand the awareness of and attitudes towards depression. It was found that although depression was listed as the most common mental health problem with more than half the respondents accepting that depression was more than simply having normal sadness and that they or a family member had experienced depression, awareness about factors associated with depression was limited. It was also found that most Australians prefer self-help and non- pharmacological treatments in comparison to antidepressant drugs.

  • The first step in handling depression relapse is to identify the symptoms as soon as you begin experiencing them. As explained earlier, symptoms may or not be similar to those you have experienced before.
  • You can use simple DIYCognitive behaviour therapy or CBT approach to identify the triggers that cause low mood throughout the day. A depression psychologist can help you understand and manage your mood and thought patterns better.
  • You should seek medical attention and fix an appointment with your GP or psychologist as soon as you begin noticing depressive symptoms that seem to linger on. They will be able to help you by changing your anti-depressant, adjusting the doses, or introduce a new therapeutic approach, such as Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy  (ISTDP)
  • Reconnect with your family and friends. Try to have deeper and more positive interpersonal interactions.
  • Forgive yourself and those who have hurt you. Chances are you will feel relieved to unchain yourself from your past.
  • Take excellent care of yourself. Strive to eat healthy, get adequate sleep and exercise regularly. Self-care will help you feel better.
  • Give positive autosuggestions to yourself. Examples include “I’m in control of my life”, “Experiencing depressive symptoms is just a temporary phase in my life. I’ll recover”.

Our psychologists will identify the core underlying disorders that could be influencing or impacting on your depressive state of mind. Depression counselling  will work with to introduce activities and will instruct you on various approaches, strategies and treatments to overcome your depression symptoms.

Our blog is for general educational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for individual professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you need help with an emotional or behavioural problem, please seek the assistance of a psychologist or other qualified mental health professional


  • American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (DSM-5®). American Psychiatric Pub.
  • Highet, N. J., Hickie, I. B., & Davenport, T.A. (2002). Monitoring awareness of and attitudes to depression in Australia. Medical Journal of Australia176(10), S63.

Enable your people to take care of their issues and mental health challenges with confidence. Contact us to learn more about providing an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for your people.


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