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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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Tina Merritt, now 39, of Virginia Beach, Va., had heard of postpartum depression when she was pregnant seven years ago. But when she gave birth to her son, Graham, she expected nothing but joy as she and her husband welcomed the baby boy who would be the first grandchild on both sides of their families."It took me a while to get pregnant, and it was a huge deal for everyone," Merritt says."I worked right up to the end of my pregnancy and felt great. I'd planned so long for this baby, I really...

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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.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: January 11, 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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