Unfortunately, you cannot cure or eradicate your depression once you have a predisposition. Even after successful treatment, over 40% of patients with depression will experience recurrence. You must carefully manage your treatment regime and lifestyle to maintain remission and recovery. Factors such as stressful life events, significant changes, multiple negative experiences, or hormonal changes can trigger a relapse or recurrence. Review the recommendations below to reduce the risk of recurrence.
The Four R’s of Depression
Here are the R’s of depression. Becoming familiar with them can help you to know whether you are in remission or a recovery phase of your depression or you are experiencing a relapse or recurrence.
Complete remission is when you are symptom-free and can return to your healthy everyday life for a period of time longer than two months. Partial remission is when you experience a reduction in symptoms; You have improved your quality of life but have some depressive symptoms still.
If your depression symptoms return during the remission phase and before the recovery phase, you have a relapse.
If you have been in remission from your depressive symptoms for six months to a year, you have reached recovery. Typically, you must be symptom-free, so a partial remission doesn’t lead to recovery.
Once you have reached the recovery phase and you experience a new episode of depression, you have had a recurrence.
Identifying Relapse or Recurrence
During a relapse or recurrence, your symptoms may differ from those you experienced during your first depressive episode. You should record your triggers and warning signs to be better prepared and watch for those signs in the future. The sooner you identify what is going on and get help, the shorter your episode or treatment will need to be. Warning signs can include:
- Feeling irritable or having trouble concentrating on tasks you usually can handle
- Losing interest in activities or spending time with loved ones
- Sleep disturbances, whether you have trouble sleeping or are sleeping more than usual
- Feeling down, hopeless, or worthless
- Weight changes due to a lack of interest in food or comfort eating
- Fatigue or exhaustion from your everyday routine when you have no physical sickness to explain it
Because your physical health can impact your mental wellness, getting enough restorative sleep, adhering to an exercise routine, eating health-conscious meals, and avoiding substance use are crucial. Finding healthy coping mechanisms and outlets to relieve stress, such as a yoga or dance class, meditation, journaling, or jamming on your guitar, will also help prevent life events or work from triggering a relapse.
If you know something in your life contributes to your depression and your coping mechanisms are not helping, you should consider changing that situation, if possible. For example, start looking for a new job if your current work environment is toxic.
In addition to adhering to a healthy lifestyle, continuing to meet with your therapist or taking prescribed medication will help prevent a relapse. If your antidepressant becomes ineffective, you may need to discuss alternative depression treatment options with your medical team.
Magnetic Brain Stimulation for Depression
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) treatment is a medication-free option that stimulates the portions of your brain associated with feelings and depression. Because it’s non-systemic, you will not experience the side effects common with other depression treatments like memory loss, weight gain, or sexual dysfunction.
Studies show that TMS causes a partial remission to full recovery in every two out of three patients. Unlike medication that takes weeks to months to take full effect, TMS can be used for quick maintenance boosts if you experience a relapse or recurrence. However, only one in three patients may require maintenance TMS sessions as it’s highly effective in the first round.
Accelerated TMS for Depression
Even if you have an incredibly challenging treatment-resistant depression or keep relapsing no matter what you do, accelerated TMS in Seattle may be the key to your recovery.
With accelerated treatment, TMS specialists utilize the same technology in a slightly different way to give you a highly-condensed, shortened treatment. Instead of a seven-week course, you may have a seven-day treatment. The downside is that it can take all day, but more frequent sessions mean faster recovery. Accelerated TMS is effective even if you fail to respond to standard TMS and may have higher response rates.
No one should have to suffer through multiple relapses and recurrences of their depression. Experiencing a setback in your depression can be frustrating, especially if you manage your lifestyle effectively and follow your prescribed treatment plan. If you are taking care of yourself and still struggling with depression relapses, speak to your doctor about your options. While there isn’t a universal cure for depression yet, newer alternative treatment courses can help you achieve the recovery you deserve.