AS@W
AS@W Antidepressant Skills at Work: Dealing with Mood Problems in the Workplace
Preventing Relapse

 

In Case of Emergency Break GlassDepression ends. It often doesn’t feel like it, but it will end. Unfortunately, some people go on to have a return of depression or depressed mood months or years later. A return of depression is called a relapse.

Is there anything you can do to reduce the risk of relapse? Yes. You may not be able to eliminate the possibility of having another episode of depression. You can however make depression less likely, less severe, and less frequent.

Keep Using the Skills that Helped

When you feel terrible, it may be obvious that you need to make caring for your own mental health a real priority. But when you feel better, it can be tempting to forget all about taking care of yourself. If you feel “good enough”, you may want to stop working at staying active, thinking realistically, and problem-solving. Think about the skills you have been using to cope. Which ones will you need to keep using over the long term, even after you feel better?

Plan Ahead for Stress

We all have difficult times in our lives – some of us more than others. For the person who has recently recovered from depression, stressful times may be a risk factor for relapse. The solution is not to avoid all stress (which none Preventing relapse of us can do), but to plan ahead to manage the stress effectively. Some stressful events can be predicted. Perhaps you have been off work and know that on a certain date you will go back to work. Perhaps Christmas is always stressful for you, and December is coming. Perhaps annual budget planning is about to start. Perhaps you are expecting a baby, whose birth you are excited about, but you know will bring many demands. You can plan ahead for these events to make them less difficult.

Here are some strategies:

  • When possible, introduce the stress gradually. If, for example, you are returning to work soon, you might check to see if you could go back part-time at first.
  • Lighten up on ongoing responsibilities. If you are taking a night school course, for example, give yourself permission to eat out more often or have a slightly less tidy home.
  • Keep up your self care. How do you keep yourself balanced? Don’t give these things up when you need them the most. If a weekly lunch with a close friend is important to you, keep doing it. If exercise helps a lot, do everything you can to keep exercising during stressful times.

Which skills do I need to keep using in the long-term?

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Mood emergency plan

 

Create a Mood Emergency Action Plan

If you plan ahead for a return of depression or depressed mood, you may be able to recover faster than previous times. As a result, the depressed mood may not become as severe, last as long, or be as difficult to bounce back from. By planning a course of effective action ahead of time you may not be as anxious, and so you may well reduce the possibility of a return of depression.

If you were to become depressed again, what are some of the things you could do to help yourself get better as quickly as possible?

Here are some areas to think about:

  • Increase rewarding activities.
    Use the steps in the Reactivating Your Life section.
  • Reduce your obligations.
    How could you plan ahead to scale back the demands on your energy in the event of depression? For example, perhaps you could get an agreement in advance to reduce your work hours or get help with meal preparation from your partner.
  • Get feedback.
    Consider giving permission to a few friends or family members (or perhaps your doctor) to tell you when they notice your mood seems to be sliding or your behaviour changes.
  • Get support.
    Who could help you and what kinds of help would you need? Perhaps you need someone to talk to, or maybe you would prefer practical help, like assistance with childcare.
  • Manage your lifestyle. A mood decline is no time to stop exercising, getting out of the house, eating properly, or keeping a good sleep schedule. What are the lifestyle factors that help your mood the most? Take some time to think about how you could take action early in a depressive episode to prevent it from getting worse. What would have helped this time? Use the list above as a starting point and make a clear plan of action.
  • Pace yourself.
    If you feel your mood slipping, it’s probably not the best time to take on new tasks or challenges at work (even if they are positive). You won’t be doing yourself a favour if they become overwhelming.
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