7 Comments to
The Fear of Relapse: 5 Cognitive Tools

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  1. To prevent or catch relapse before it gets too bad, I use my personal Wellness Action Recovery Plan (WRAP) by Mary Ellen Copeland. It’s an amazing tool both for the darkening times and for the times that just seem off-balance.

  2. Thanks for this article; I can relate a lot. I’ve often had this fear too since my hospitalization. During a few slips I was close to panic. My therapist said this is very normal though. Thankfully, this fear has gradually lessened; I think acceptance and a wider support network has helped.

  3. I was doing well for quite sometime; I even tapered off 2 of my medications(with my doc’s OK). The depression hit back again, I didn’t have a plan. My therapist threatened to call the cops to get me put in a safe place. My Psych doc said he wouldn’t put me in, but I had to get back on my meds- the side effects are terrible! I have a WRAP book; but they tried to have me fill it out while I was still foggy from the meds- I could think straight! Once I get to feeling better I do have to find a way to keep me from hitting rock bottom again. Due to my dual-diagnosis( Addiction and mental illness) it gets harder to separate- did I really fall if I only took too much Rx medication- I didn’t drink!

  4. Mary Ellen Copeland’s book, Winning Against Relapse, has really helped me. It’s filled with great stories, examples, helpful hints, and has helped me find the confidence I need to advocate for myself.

    Mary Ellen is the author of the Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP). You can get Winning Against Relapse at

  5. Before being diagnosed as bipolar I was vulnerable to crisis, even though I didn’t know it. After finding a wonderful doctor, one of the most important things we did together was to identify the signs of a possible crisis so now when I notice one of them, I call my shrink to see him as soon as possible. I also recommed Donald Winnicott’s article on the fear of the breakdown. He provides an explanation for the fear and also calls attention to the fact that people who have experienced a breakdown learn to avoid new ones.

  6. So far I have been able to stop my slide down by adjusting my meds;I am blessed. Lately, I can talk with dear friends about how frightened I get when I have a few bad days. I guess it is like someone with any disease that is in remission; they freak when old symptoms come back.I know afterwards that most folks not suffering with severe depression have learned to ride these dips out until they pass. It is consoling to me that my fears are shared by others and I am not “just not grown up”.

  7. This is an important subject – thank you for writing about it.

    I wonder thought about the past not be a predictor of the future, where depression is concerned. My doctor told me otherwise, and he is a prominent psychiatrist who was head of the teaching staff at a major institution.

    What he told me is that once a person has had a severe major depressive episode, she/he is actually more prone to them in the future. We were talking about this in the context of understanding the disease as being a life-long condition, as opposed to an isolated incident, and as such, one that required vigilance and strategies for coping through life.

    Has anyone heard the same thing? It was scary to hear at first, but it also gave me a stronger sense of myself in a way. Because it dispelled ideas I’d had about ‘escaping’ depression, and rather, seeing it as part of my makeup, and therefore, being more in control.

    I have had the experience of multiple episodes, years apart. When I was in a psych day program, we did a lot of work with CBT for monitoring ourselves and developing strategies. I got a lot out of that, even after years of very productive talk therapy. Along with meds.

  8. THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for this little article. I’m 28 and have gone trough 4 episodes of depression varying in severity. I’m currently on medication that does not seem to work as well as the medication I was on before which I cannot take right now because I’m trying to get pregnant. The past few days have been difficult because every time I feel the anxiety mounting and I feel the usual symptoms of gloominess and despair, I feel like at any moment I could have the rug ripped from under me and fall again. To be able to relate to what other people are going through and not feeling so alien really helps. I find the cognitive tricks very useful and will try putting them to good use. To all of you out there who have been touched by anxiety or depression, my heart goes out to you. You are not alone:)



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