You’re sitting at a coffee shop with a book in your lap. All of a sudden tears well up in your eyes and start streaming down your face. Your hands start trembling and it feels like there is a giant void inside of you. You can’t shake it off. You quickly run to your car and lock the doors.
During these sudden moments, you’re on edge. You feel fatigued and no matter how much you sleep you still feel exhausted in the morning. Nothing seems fun anymore and everything just seems dull and worthless, including your-self. You try to avoid depression relapse but you’re thoughts of worthlessness start clouding your mind.
A few weeks later you’re sitting in bed watching a movie and you suddenly feel exhausted. You stop the movie and turn off the lights to go to sleep. As you lay in the dark, the stress from the past few weeks starts to weigh on you and it becomes harder and harder to breathe. You’re trying to prevent depression relapse. But the familiar feeling creates a dense fog and you’re lost in the middle of it.
You sit up because gravity pushing down on you is too much. You run your fingers through your hair and try to even out your breaths as the familiar feeling of emptiness lingers at the edge of your subconscious waiting to make an appearance.
You lay your head down on the pillow, trying to think of happy thoughts. But during these quiet nights when your thoughts become too loud for you to think. You can’t help but succumb to the sinking feeling that it’s back. Before you lose hope, take a few deep breaths and try to work through it. Here are 12 ways to stop those thoughts and prevent depression relapse.
1. Focus on Daily Reflection
Preventing depression relapse requires daily reflection, which allows you to acknowledge potential triggers and look for early symptoms. Knowing what potential triggers are can help you identify early symptoms and seek treatment sooner. Triggers can include stress, major life events, or self-doubt. When you treat your symptoms sooner rather than later you can prevent a full-on depression relapse and in some cases prevent a depression relapse from occurring at all.
2. Lower Stress Levels
Stress management is something all of us can get better at. Stress has the tendency to sneak up on you. You take on new responsibilities at work, new classes at school, or new life situations almost every day. And once these things start piling up, your brain can take a turn for the worst. When you’re stressed, you lose sleep over all the responsibilities you have to take care of, you worry about whether not you can manage, and you start doubting the way you do things. All of this can cause a snowball effect, which can quickly lead to depression relapse.
The best way to manage stress is by first identifying stressful situations. After you have acknowledged what is causing your stress, write them down. With your list, start marking off the situations you can actually control with a little star. For the situations that are unmarked, let them go. You can’t control it, so why worry about it?
Now, let’s think about the situations marked with a star. How can you make this situation less stressful? Say the situation is: a new job with lots of responsibilities. Your stress is the result of being unsure you can do the job efficiently.
It’s normal to feel stressed about a new job. A new job or position can be scary but if you think about it, you won’t be given the job if the hiring manager didn’t think you could do it. That makes sense, right? So take comfort in the fact that someone thinks you’re capable of completing the job properly.
Secondly, if you’re stressed about all the responsibilities then make a schedule. This schedule will keep you focused and allow you to work on your responsibilities one task at a time and before you know it, you’re done with the day and the stress that was there is alleviated.
3. Do Thing That Makes You Happy
What do you like doing? Sometimes when you’re on the verge of depression relapse, you don’t do things that you enjoy. Instead, you sit around moping and stewing in your own head letting your negative thoughts get the best of you.
So, change the cycle by going out, reading a book, cooking a nice meal, or volunteering at a local charity. By doing things you enjoy, you’ll promote more positive thoughts, which can give you a better frame of mind, allowing you to live happier.
4. Talk to People
If you don’t open up about your feelings and struggles, then no one can help you. And just the act of talking about your difficulties can make you feel better because it lets you know that someone cares when they take the time to hear you out and comfort you. Who knows? The person you talk to could have gone through the same thing and you guys can work through the situation together. This talking period can be a great bonding experience that lets you know that you’re not alone in feeling this way and sometimes this is one of the most comforting things to know.
5. Try MBCT (Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy)
In recent decades, psychologists have experimented with MBCT. They found that MBCT therapy treatments work just as well as anti-depressants.
6. Get Some Exercise
Exercising releases endorphins, AKA happy chemicals. Endorphins reduce stress, lead to better sleep, increase self-esteem, and help reduce depression symptoms. The act of exercising also leads to a more positive self-image because you’re taking care of yourself.
7. Eat healthily
Along the same bandwagon, eating healthy also makes you feel better. By taking care of yourself, your subconscious is acknowledging that you are worth taking care of. It’s a way to stop a cycle of self-loathing and unhappiness. You tend to be happier when you are exercising regularly and eating healthy because you feel good about taking care of yourself.
8. Sleep 7-8 hours a night
Lack of sleep disrupts thinking patterns, which can lead to excessive amounts of negative thoughts. Before you sleep, use relaxation methods to reduce negative thoughts so you can have restful sleep. Getting better sleep will help you make better decisions the next day because you’re brain can effectively make informed decisions.
9. Stop Thinking, “It’s my fault.”
Avoid thinking traps such as “Over-generalization, filtering, all-or-nothing, catastrophizing.”It’s not your fault- focusing on the past, or thinking about old situations could bring about depression- thinking what could I have done differently, would I still be in the same situation now if I didn’t do A, B, or C?
10. Don’t Make Rash Decisions
When you’re on the edge of depression relapse, it is not the time to make a big life-altering decision. Big decisions, such as moving, getting married, or quitting your job, should not be made when you’re not thinking clearly. Even when you’re happy and thinking clearly, these decisions can cause stress. During vulnerable times, big decisions could lead to full-on depression relapse.
11. Keep seeking treatment
Long-term treatment prevents relapse because you have someone there to help coach and guide you. Many people stop seeking treatment once they feel better. Without routine check-ups, the little things can pile up and lead to depression relapse. So, instead of stopping treatment altogether, just reduce the number of sessions you attend in a week or month.
12. Think positive
Be thankful and appreciative every day. An easy way to do this is to keep a reflective journal of all the things you’re grateful for. If you’re struggling to find something to be grateful about then go volunteer and you’ll meet people that are passionate and love to help others. You’ll see your life differently, be grateful for what you have, and love the fact that you’re helping another person improve their life.
Depression relapse is a serious thing that needs to be acknowledged so don’t wait to get treated. Everyone deserves to be happy, including you. Use these 12 ways to prevent depression relapse in your daily life or work with a professional to create a plan. Whatever you decide to do, just remember that happiness is worth it.