Warning Signs of a Depression Relapse

a person sits on a curve wearing black in a beautiful fall scene

When Depression Comes Back

Seek help quickly and you may be able to prevent a full-blown episode.

Some people with major depression have symptoms only once in their life. Others have them again and again. Once you get treatment, it's important to pay attention to your feelings. That will help you catch possible signs of a relapse Don't stop a treatment that works for you unless the doctor says it's OK.

lady with blue hair has her eyes closed and looks sad

More than "Blue"

Hopeless, teary, or "empty" every day for more than 2 weeks

How can you tell depression from simple sadness? Are you down because of a specific event, like losing a job or a bad breakup? That could be normal, short-term sadness. If it bothers you for weeks and so bad that it gets in the way of your daily life, it may be clinical depression. Don't wait, Take Action

a group of figures in a circle with one lone figure sadly standing outside by himself

Isolation and Withdrawal

A loss of pleasure in activities can point to depression.

Do you avoid leaving the house? Does the shortest conversation feel like too much effort? Do you retreat to your room when family members try to draw you out? A strong social network is important. Look for a support group. It can help to talk to other people who know what you're going through.

A man falls asleep in a chair using his brief case as a head rest

Sleep Changes

Do you lie awake at night while your mind races? Or do you sleep too much because you don't want to get out of bed?

A shift in your habits like insomnia -- trouble falling or staying asleep -- could be a warning sign. A lack of shuteye can cause or worsen other symptoms linked to depression, like fatigue. Discuss it with your doctor. If your troubles are a symptom of depression relapse, medication and talk therapy may help.

a green ball cartoon making a irratible face


Did your laid-back manner give way to fits of fury?

Do little things flig you out? Do you fuss and fight with friends and family? Depression can show itself in irritability and anger. It makes it tough to handle everyday stresses. Men are more likely than women to behave recklessly and, sometimes, violently when depressed.

a man in a woman sit up in a bed looking very uncomfortable

No Joy

Can't Enjoy Sex, Fun, or Friends

This is a biggie. Activities you used to enjoy may now feel like a burden. If you've been depressed in the past and notice that you've lost feelings for your spouse or children, aren't interested in work, hobbies, or other favorite activities for more than 2 weeks, you might be relapsing. It's more likely if your symptoms come back within 6 months of an episode. Ask your doctor for help.

cartoon man walks around dragging his hand

Feeling Worthless

Psychotherapy can help lift your low self-esteem and build up your strengths.

Old feelings of self-loathing and guilt may creep back in. Or maybe you can't turn off the inner critic that wants to focus on your failures. You may feel you're to blame for events that are out of your control

back of person in pain trying to stretch it out

Chronic Aches and Pains

If your aches and pains don't get better with treatment, depression could be to blame.

Do you have back pain even though you haven’t strained your back? Or how about chronic headaches and stomachaches? Unexplained chest pain or achy legs and arms? Depression can have physical symptoms so be sure to ask your doctor.

a skinny man stands infront of an over weight reflection of himself

Sudden Weight Gain or Loss

Pay attention to strong changes in your appetite and weight.

Depression can change your relationship with food. You may forget it's time to eat. You might have to force yourself to have a meal. You could overeat or binge eat.

a person lays their head down on a stack of books in exhaustion


Depression can make you feel too tired or weak to wash the dishes

Do you have to drag yourself through the day -- or even get dressed? Not eating, or eating unhealthy food, can add to your fatigue. Good nutrition, exercise, and sleep can help you fight it.

cartoon of a turtle that has a brain as a shell

Slowed-Down Thinkin

Is your brain sluggish? Do you lose focus easily?

Depression can make it hard to concentrate and give you trouble remembering things? You might have problems making decisions -- as minor as what to wear in the morning or as major as problem-solving at work.

silhouette of a man sitting in a chair with a noose hanging over his head

Suicidal Thoughts

This is a serious sign. It could mean you have severe depression.

Some people think about suicide often. Others plan how to harm themselves. You're more likely to reach this point if you feel hopeless and you've lost interest in the things you once enjoyed. If you or someone you know has suicidal thoughts or talks about suicide, seek immediate help from a psychiatrist or other mental health professional.

What You Can Do?

No two people with depression feel the same. If you have any of these warning signs or symptoms that concern you, talk to your regular doctor or a psychiatrist. They may suggest therapy or more medication to prevent a relapse. Cut your stress and do something every day that makes you feel good. You might need long-term treatment if you've had three or more depression episodes.