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Depression: Ongoing care

Key points

  • People who have experienced a major depressive episode are at risk of further episodes.
  • Relapse prevention plans address risk factors and document coping strategies.
  • Returning to work or school is an important component of an ongoing care plan.

Relapse prevention

People who have experienced a major depressive episode are at risk of more episodes. They can use periods of wellness to engage in relapse prevention. Depression, like conditions such as diabetes, requires careful monitoring. Catching the early warnings of a possible relapse can help to prevent a full depressive episode.

Work with the client to develop a relapse prevention plan to maintain psychological wellness. The plan should outline how the client will:

  • recognize and attend to early warning signs of a possible episode
  • identify potential triggers
  • cope with stressful situations
  • make lifestyle changes
  • create a regular routine.


  • People with depression may not need to take time off work.
  • Engaging in work can have various benefits for people with depression. It provides regular social interaction, routine and a sense of accomplishment.
  • Working can also present risks for people with depression. It can increase the potential for workplace accidents and conflict with other employees, as well as reduced productivity. Clients and clinicians need to discuss a work plan that balances the benefits and risks.
  • Clients can use cognitive techniques and self-management to manage work-related stress.


Self-help and support groups

Canadian Mental Health Association

Mood Disorders Society of Canada

Self-management resources

Antidepressant Skills Workbook. (2009), by Dan Bilsker and Randy Paterson

The Feeling Good Handbook. (1999), by David Burns

Mind Over Mood: Change How You Feel by Changing the Way You Think. (1995), by David Greenberger and Christine Padesky

Online resources

Anxiety and Depression Association of America

Canadian Mental Health Association

Canadian Network for Mood and Anxiety Treatments

Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

Mood Disorders Centre of Excellence

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