Posted by raisinb on February 4, 2009, at 15:46:38
In reply to How to know if depression comes back?, posted by besserer_komfort on February 4, 2009, at 13:13:51
That is a really tough question that I think most of us with depression struggle with. I'm the first to tell you that I've left it way too long in the past.
I honestly think it's a completely individual decision. For me, signs that the depression is coming back are numerous, but the one thing that tells me it's time to make a change is chronic boredom/loss of meaning in things I usually care about.
Only you know what your signs are, but there are things you can do to make sure you catch yourself. Here's what I have found helpful:
1) Keep track of your moods in very objective ways--like rating how you feel on a scale of one to ten every morning and evening. You can also break this down to track things that are issues for you--like level of anxiety, level of suicidal ideation, level of motivation, etc. I do this because I have noticed that I have a tendency to think whatever mood I'm in in a particular moment is permanent.
2) I tend to get panicky about being depressed again whenever I feel a negative mood coming on or experience a negative event. This panic is a self-fulfilling prophecy, usually. I get scared and upset about being depressed and it makes me more so. So what I've found helpful is to try to distract myself from negative moods. Watch movies, play computer games, lose yourself in work--whatever engages you totally. Then, see if the negative mood lifts.
3) Track objective physical signs. For me, I stop eating, start smoking a lot more, and stop sleeping. I also have a sluggish weighty feel to my body. For you, it might be something else--lots of people eat and sleep more, for instance.
Bottom line is get to know your triggers, track them in a quick and objective way, and then forget about it until some time goes by and you can assess how you feel over a longer period.
Best of luck to you. I hope you find peace and success in treating your illness if it's back.