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Once you’ve recovered from depression, it’s a good time to learn more about it and work out how to prevent it occurring again in future. While most people recover completely and have no further problems, over a third of people can have a relapse within the following year, and about half will have further episodes later. People who have had previous episodes seem more likely to relapse.

The thought of going through another bout of depression is hard to face, but the more you understand it, the better you’ll deal with any future episode.

protect yourself

There are things you can do to help prevent depression returning;

  1. Continue with medication for as long as your doctor suggests – which is often six to 12 months. Remember, treating depression is more like managing diabetes or high blood pressure than treating a cold.
  2. Watch for your early warning signs - they might suggest a recurrence is around the corner.
  3. Learn your ‘triggers’, so you can reduce the risk of a relapse.
  4. Take a good look at your day–to-day life and try to minimise any of the lifestyle risk factors.
  5. Get physically healthy (and stay that way!) by eating well and exercising every day.
  6. Try the Structured Problem Solving (SPS) techniques on this site.
  7. Sort out any relationships or situations that are worrying you, by getting help or using SPS.

prepare a plan

When you’re depressed, it’s hard to find the strength to look at the problems that contribute to your depression. It’s often easier to do this once you’ve recovered.

It can help to talk with the people around you who were affected. If you feel comfortable with it, try explaining your situation with them and discuss ways to work together to help you deal with depression if it happens again. Once people understand that depression can pass with the right treatment, they’re often more supportive of temporary measures to help you cope. Let them know what your warning signs are, so they can help you identify when to put the plan into action.

share your story

One way to help deal with depression is to talk about it openly with people you trust, if that feels right. It can help you and the people around you understand what is happening and how to deal with it. While there is still some stigma and misunderstanding about mental illness, this is changing - partly due to people like John Kirwan being willing to share their experiences. There’s more awareness now about how common depression is.

If you don’t feel you can trust your friends, whanau or family – there are support groups throughout the country that offer a safe environment for you to talk openly about depression.

next step

Remember, the better you deal with your depression the quicker you will get through. You shouldn’t try to deal with it alone, so tell the people around you about this site – the more they know about depression the more they can help you.

0800 111 757

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