Information for the public
How can I stay well in the future?
If an antidepressant has helped you, your healthcare professional should encourage you to continue taking it for at least 6 months after you feel better. This reduces the risk of your depression coming back. They should then discuss with you whether you need to stay on medication after this.
If you are at risk of becoming unwell again, or you have had depression several times in the past, your healthcare professional should advise you to continue taking antidepressants for at least 2 years. They should discuss with you whether you need to stay on medication after this. Depending on your preference and what treatments you have tried in the past, they should also discuss other possible options with you, including taking another medicine in addition to your antidepressant or having CBT.
If you have had depression several times in the past, and have found current treatment with an antidepressant and a second medicine to be helpful, your healthcare professional should advise you to continue to take this combination of medicines, as long as you are not having distressing side effects. If one medicine is stopped, it should be the second one. If you are offered lithium to help you to stay well, it should usually be in addition to an antidepressant, because healthcare professionals are not sure how well lithium works on its own for people with depression.
Psychological treatments can help you to stay well if there is a risk your depression may come back. You should be offered one-to-one CBT (see the table on psychological treatments for depression) if you become unwell again or if your depression has improved but you still have some symptoms. You should be offered a treatment called mindfulness-based cognitive therapy if you are currently well but have had three or more episodes of depression in the past. This treatment usually takes place in groups and consists of eight weekly sessions lasting 2 hours each. A further four sessions may be offered in the 12 months after the end of treatment.