The first thing to recognize about depression is that everyone’s experience is different. One of the larger differences in people’s experience with depression is how often they experience the feeling.
Depression that affects someone more than once is called recurring depression. These individuals will likely experience times when they feel better and times when they feel worse, but the depression is never really gone. On the other hand, some people only experience depression once in their life. If you are experiencing a depression relapse, that likely means you are dealing with recurring depression rather than a singular event leading to depression.
It can be easy to get automatically worried when you notice similar feelings coming up again. Still, because you have already gone through your initial depressive episode, you are actually better prepared to handle a relapse. In addition, you have likely already learned certain techniques and practices to help you cope with your depression. This said, there are always more things that you can try to manage your depression — which we will dive into in the final section of this piece.
Signs of a Relapse
Before getting into coping strategies, let’s look at some of the most obvious signs of a depression relapse.
We know “isolation” is listed in every single “signs of depression” list on the internet already. The truth is, if you find yourself actively avoiding social situations — such as spending time with your family or friends — that is a pretty good sign that you’ve got something going on internally.
When we feel awful, we have a tendency to draw into ourselves and stop putting ourselves out in the world. So, if you’ve noticed you’ve been rejecting a lot of invitations to do things, you may want to keep an eye out for other signs of depression since you may be experiencing a relapse.
Just like isolation, fatigue is an easy-to-notice and common symptom of depression. You may get enough sleep at night, enough nutritious food in your system, and even enough time with your loved ones. But, if you are still tired and unmotivated, you may very well be experiencing a depressive relapse.
Depression is really hard on our minds, which can translate into more difficulty doing even daily tasks, like cleaning the house or making food. Fatigue can also lead to sluggishness, where you may have difficulty remembering things or concentrating on tasks.
Feeling More Irritable
Irritability and anger can be good signs that you are relapsing into another depressive episode. In addition, if you feel more short-tempered than usual, or if your loved ones point out that you seem more short-tempered, you may want to see if you notice any other symptoms of depression.
Loss of Interest in Hobbies or Activities
As mentioned above, depression is really hard on our minds and bodies, and when we have to make an effort to even get our laundry done over the weekend, it is no surprise that activities can seem way too much for us. When everything seems like a chore, we aren’t going to get the same joy out of activities that we used to enjoy.
Most people wouldn’t associate physical pain with something like depression. But, as we noted before, depression takes a toll on the mind, and the mind and body are connected. So, when you think about it, it does make sense. Unexplained muscle pain, headaches, and stomach pain are all quite common signs of depression.
Sudden Weight Changes
Sudden weight loss or weight gain can show a change in appetite and eating habits which can indicate a shift in your mind. For the most part, we develop consistent eating habits that help to provide us with the nutrients we need to be happy and healthy. But when we are depressed, the amount of food needed to create this feeling of happiness and healthiness may change.
Changes to Sleep Habits
Like eating habits, our sleeping habits are another routine that can often affect depression. You may find that you are more fatigued and want to sleep longer. On the other hand, you may experience the opposite and have difficulty getting to sleep and staying asleep.
Any changes to your sleep pattern can cause concern because, like eating, sleeping is an essential part of our normal rhythm of life. When this rhythm is disturbed, it can oftentimes signify something is wrong.
Thoughts of Self-Harm
Self-harm (even thoughts of self-harm) is a sign of a severe depressive episode. If you are experiencing any thoughts of harming yourself, you should seek immediate help from a crisis counselor or call your local emergency number.
How to Cope With Relapsing Depression
Truthfully, many of the coping mechanisms for a relapse of depression are the same as the coping techniques for depression in general. Trying out some of the techniques below can be very helpful because not all depressive episodes are the same. Even if something did not necessarily work for you in your previous depressive episode, it could work for this.
Talk to Your Loved Ones
Finding support from your friends and family can do a lot to help alleviate some of the feelings of loneliness and fatigue you may be feeling. But, if you do not talk to them, your loved ones will not know what you need or how they can help.
So, reach out to the people you love and tell them what is going on with you and how they may be able to help you.
Work on Self-Care
Loved ones are great, but only one person in this world will be there for you for your entire life. Who is that person, you ask? Yourself. That’s right. You need to be your own best friend. Think about it like this, if your best friend was feeling down and needed someone to lean on, you’d be there for them, right?
Well, the same should be true for yourself. Be there for yourself. If you need some time to sort through things, give yourself that time — without judgment. Make sure you are eating and sleeping well, and you are incorporating movement into your days as well.
Journaling can be a great way to just let your feelings out. Maybe you are simply feeling sad and need to get it out. Maybe you are really upset about something seemingly trivial. Whatever it is you are feeling, journaling about it can help you to recognize and validate the emotions but allow them to pass.
Talk to a Therapist
A therapist is an incredible resource that you can always turn to when you need some extra guidance in your life. Maybe you already have a therapist you talked to during your first depressive episode. Maybe you are going to be trying therapy for the first time.
It doesn’t matter if you have already seen a therapist or you are looking for one for the first time. A therapist can provide you with more personalized guidance to help you find the best coping techniques for you and the feelings you are experiencing now. So, if you want to talk to a therapist about your depression, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at Love Heal Grow.