Relapse prevention

There are different courses of depression. The majority of sufferers experience more than one depressive episode in the course of their lives (so-called recurrent depression). The recurrence of depression is Relapse referred to as.

What is the probability of relapse, d.h. To develop depressive symptoms again after recovery?

It is known from research and clinical practice that in more than 70% of those affected, depression recurs in the course of their lives. Most relapses occur within six months of completing acute treatment.

"Gray too colorful," Julia Kranich (2015 photo contest)

However, the risk of relapse can be reduced by 70% through relapse-preventive measures, d.h. those affected can do something themselves to reduce the risk of a renewed depression. These include taking medication regularly, psychotherapy and concrete activities of one’s own.

Relapse prevention is often carried out with the help of medications whose efficacy is well established. The risk of suffering another depressive episode can be reduced with the help of antidepressants i.e. be greatly reduced. Usually, antidepressants cause the depression to subside. After the depression has subsided, there is usually a four- to ca. nine-month continuation of treatment with the same antidepressant at the same dose recommended (so-called Maintenance therapy). If no new depression then occurs, the medication can be slowly discontinued in consultation with the treating physician. This gradual reduction of the dose is Fade out Called. The prerequisites for this are that the affected person is in a stable life situation and that no major changes or challenges are imminent.

Attention: For relapse-preventive treatment regular intake of medication of great importance. However, in the case of recurrent or severe depression, it is advisable to stop taking the medication after these ca. nine months (so-called Long-term therapy).

When deciding for or against a long-term therapy, the treating specialist should be consulted in any case. Together, the advantages and disadvantages of the treatment should be carefully weighed up.

In addition to medication, psychotherapy is another way to prevent relapse.

A large-scale For example, a study showed, for example, that depressives treated with cognitive behavioral therapy had fewer relapses over three years than an untreated control group.

For many sufferers, it is advisable to continue psychotherapy even after the acute treatment has ended.

There are also some things that a sufferer can do himself to prevent a relapse.


For some time now, there has been repeated discussion in the media as to whether Sports an effective therapy against depression is. Sport alone can not cure depression. However, a healthy body and regular activity helps to feel good, and possibly can reduce the risk of relapse.

Based on clinical experience, physical exercise may also be recommended to alleviate depressive symptoms and increase well-being.

When it comes to sports, Starting small and increase activity slowly and steadily. One to two hours of physical activity (for example, jogging, swimming, hiking, or biking) should be scheduled per week. Common Sports in a group At the same time, it helps to escape the social withdrawal caused by the illness. On the page "Running against depression" some running offers are listed especially for people with depression. Health insurers may also be able to provide information on exercise programs, if appropriate.


Similarly, it can be very helpful for the sufferer to understand the connection between Sleep to know exactly your mood and mood. Although depression is always accompanied by the feeling of exhaustion, going to bed early and staying in bed for a long time does not make it better, but usually makes it worse. Often with depression, mood and drive are worst in the morning, and sleep deprivation is surprisingly a very effective antidepressant measure. It is therefore recommended to document by means of a diary how long one stays in bed at night and during the day and how one’s mood is afterwards in each case. If you find that a long bedtime tends to make your mood worse the next day, you can counteract it by reducing your bedtime from ten to eight and a half hours, for example, or from nine to eight or seven and a half hours. The temptation to go to bed earlier and stay in bed longer when depressed can be part of a vicious cycle caused by controlled sleeping can be broken.


During diet applies above all, healthy and balanced eating too much – not only in depression. Despite many recommendations in the media: there are no foods that have a proven antidepressant effect!

Depression often announces itself over a longer period of time by certain signs. The so-called early warning signs are changes in mood, increased tendency to brood, sleep disturbances – similar to depression, although not yet as severe. To avoid a relapse, it is important that sufferers keep their Know your personal early warning signs. Thus, when they do occur, they are better able to actively help a counteract relapse.

  • tiredness, exhaustion, listlessness
  • headaches
  • physical discomfort
  • no desire to meet with friends, to socialize
  • Staying at home on weekends, although one usually likes to go out
  • speaking less, more quietly than before
  • Not knowing what to say
  • ruminating about problems that were not problems before
  • concentration problems
  • slow down thinking
  • Problems remembering
  • listlessness
  • reduced activity
  • decreased self-confidence/
  • Tension
  • difficulty in making decisions
  • Pressure on the chest
  • poorer/less performance at work, study, school
  • Difficulty getting out of bed in the morning
  • Anxiety
  • less or more appetite than usual
  • thoughts of what it would be like not to be there anymore
  • changes in drinking and eating habits
  • increased sensitivity to sounds
  • inner restlessness, being driven, impatience
  • irritability
  • not being able to sleep at night
  • less desire for partner/sexuality

Crisis plan

In addition to identifying personal early warning signs, creating a crisis plan is another way to take action. This gives the person affected concrete instructions for action in the event of a new onset of depression.

A crisis plan is structured action guidanceIt helps to recognize your own changes, which can announce a relapse or a crisis – thus the early warning signs – at an early stage. In addition, it includes Countermeasures, in order to react appropriately and to be able to get professional help quickly if necessary.

Below you will find a crisis plan for download. It is a good idea to always have this with you (in your wallet, for example) so that you can see the most important information at a glance if necessary.

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