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Depression - Prevention

Little is known about how to prevent depression, but getting exercise and avoiding alcohol and drugs may help. Exercise may also help prevent depression from coming back (relapse) and may improve symptoms of mild depression.

You also may be able to prevent depression by avoiding alcohol and drugs. Alcohol and drugs can contribute to depression. And using them can be a sign that you have depression.

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Preventing depression from coming back

You may be able to prevent a relapse or keep your symptoms from getting worse if you:

  • Take your medicine as prescribed. Depression often returns if you stop taking your medicine or don't take it as your doctor advises.
  • Continue to take your medicine after your symptoms improve. Taking your medicine for at least 6 months after you feel better can help keep you from getting depressed again. If this isn't the first time you have been depressed, your doctor may want you to take medicine even longer. You may benefit from long-term treatment with antidepressants.
  • Continue cognitive-behavioral therapy after your symptoms improve. Research shows that people who were treated with this type of therapy had less chance of relapse than those who were treated only with antidepressants.3
  • Eat a balanced diet.
  • Get regular exercise.
  • Get treatment right away if you notice that symptoms of depression are coming back or getting worse.
  • Have healthy sleep patterns.
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: July 22, 2013
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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