What is a relapse and how you can prevent it?
A relapse is defined as the deterioration of a person’s condition after a period of observable progress or improvement. In medical parlance, a relapse occurs when a person suffers from the major symptoms of a disease after he/she has been declared fit or healthy.
Relapses are exceedingly common in the world of mental health simply because mental conditions (including mood disorders) are complex conditions to treat and there are so many factors that affect a person’s overall chances of recovery.
Are you at risk of a relapse?
Every patient who has been diagnosed with a mood disorder or any other psychiatric disturbance has a risk of relapse. It’s something that we all have to accept if we want to really beat back the symptoms of depression. Yes, you may experience symptoms again after undergoing treatment. However, that is still a big “maybe” especially if you are fully complying with your prescribed medications and you are attending psychotherapy sessions regularly.
Here are some additional steps that will help prevent the relapse of any mood disorder:
- Don’t forget routine and structure. Routines are often associated with the humdrum life… Until the central routines are suddenly dissolved by a mood disorder like clinical depression.
A person can easily feel lost and confused when the most basic routines become meaningless and unmanageable. If you feel the same way about your life right now because depression has thrown a monkey wrench in many of your life and work-related routines, it’s time to make new routines.
Make a list of the areas in your life that sorely need a “structure makeover.” Don’t overwhelm yourself – pick three or four major areas and focus on these important domains before moving on to the next domains. Next, create a a simple, workable schedule for each domain so you will have a fixed activity pattern on a daily or weekly basis.
Again, you don’t have to complicate anything: start with simple routines as you can easily upgrade the structure of your activities later on, as you continue recovering from your mood disorder.
- Strive for balance. Balance is essentially a state of comfortable equilibrium in your life wherein all your efforts are being rewarded adequately and you do not feel too stressed or pressured by anything. While this sounds idealistic to some people, it’s actually quite possible to attain balance in your life through proper life evaluation.
What is life evaluation?
Life evaluation is the process of “taking inventory” of your life so you can see which areas require more of attention at the present time. Regular life evaluations are necessary if you want to figure out how your mood disorder is changing your personality/beliefs.
Knowing how your condition is changing your baseline profile will enable you to monitor your mood, thoughts and emotions more closely, so you will know when the disorder is attempting to cause havoc and when you’re just experiencing normal, day-to-day thoughts and emotions.
What should be done during “mood checks?”
Before performing a mood check, create a baseline profile of yourself so you can compare what you’re feeling at the moment to what you remember of yourself before the mood disorder began changing things. If you think your current thoughts/mood/emotion is being caused by your depression, acknowledge it and “take it apart” by asking critical and rational questions.
Asking rational questions is one of the easiest way to recondition your mind so that it stops accepting negativity caused by your depression. The transition and conditioning will require effort and time but in the end, you will reap the benefits of your efforts.
- Make life chunky. Who doesn’t love chunks? They’re tasty and easier to swallow, right? The same principle applies to your responsibilities and obligations in life. They won’t stop just because you have depression and yes, it can be overwhelming the majority of the time. Don’t panic! Instead of feeling overwhelmed with all of the tasks that you have to accomplish on a regular basis, break down each “mega task” into a set of smaller tasks.
A list of smaller tasks is always more manageable. You may have more subtasks to contend with, but you’ll be able to tell if you’re making any progress with your mega tasks or not. The beauty of this system is that you can get organized more easily when you see the chronicity of the steps for each major task. In short, you effectively become “bigger than your task.”