Staying well: tips for keeping depression away

Some people can have a one-off episode of depression that doesn’t return, while for others, depression is sometimes thought of as a chronic condition — one that can come and go over a longer period of time.

Take the full course of antidepressant to help yourself stay well

If you are taking an antidepressant, taking it for at least 6 months after you are better will make it less likely that your depression will come back. If you have had depression a few times in your life, longer treatment (e.g. 2 years) will increase your chances of staying well. Talk to your doctor about the right length of treatment for you.

CBT keeps depression away longer than antidepressants

Compared with antidepressant treatment, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), a type of psychological therapy, is better for preventing depression coming back.

Watch out for signs of depression coming back

After completing your treatment for depression, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on yourself, or the person you are caring for, in case the symptoms come back. Talk to your doctor or psychologist about what to look out for so you know the signs, and make a plan for what to do if you think the depression is returning.

There are certain times that are more stressful than others, and these can trigger the return of depression. Think about the things you can do to help yourself, or someone you care for, in these situations, and talk to your doctor about making a plan for these stressful times.

For more information

  • National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health. Depression: the NICE guideline on the treatment and management of depression in adults (updated edition). London: National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, 2010. (accessed 9 February 2012).