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Relapse of Schizophrenia

A relapse can happen when you have schizophrenia. In a relapse, your symptoms return and may be so severe that they cause a psychotic episode. This means you can't tell the difference between what is real and what isn't real. A relapse or a psychotic episode can be very intense and scary.

Preventing a relapse

There are things that you can do to help prevent a relapse:

  • Take your medicines as prescribed. Not taking medicine is the main cause of relapse. If you have difficulty taking your medicine or have questions about whether or not it’s helping you, talk with your healthcare provider. Together, the two of you can develop a plan so that your medicines can be most helpful to you.

  • Reduce stress in your life. Be aware of when you are under stress and develop strategies to cope with it. This may mean fewer relapses.

  • Drink alcohol in moderation and do not use illegal drugs. Both can contribute to relapse, especially if done in large amounts.

  • Keep up with treatment. Go to your counseling sessions and classes even when you don't feel like it or when you think they are not helping you. These are feelings to talk about with your treatment team so that treatment can work better for you. Make sure to share when you’re feeling stuck so your team can help you work through it.

  • Join a self-help or support group. Self-help and support groups are usually run by the members of the group, not healthcare providers.

  • Learn about your illness and symptoms. By better understanding your illness, you may notice changes in symptoms and can then use strategies to prevent symptoms from getting worse.

  • Build positive social supports. Often other people can help you recognize early signs of relapse and can help you prevent a relapse.

  • Learn what relapse looks like for you. Recognize events or situations that lead to relapses in the past and think about how you can handle the situation differently if it were to happen again. When you recognize the first signs of relapse, get help early. Common signs of relapse include:

    • Staying away from or not being interested in other people

    • Forgetting things

    • Having problems concentrating

    • Daydreaming

    • Not paying attention to what is going on

    • Changes in eating and sleep behaviors

    • Increased mental health symptoms, including increased nervousness, low mood, irritability, paranoia, and drug or alcohol use.

Make a relapse action plan

An action plan says in writing what you can do to help prevent a relapse, what you need to do if you have signs of a relapse, and what you would like family members or other people to do to help you if you have a relapse. You will need the help of others to get through a relapse.

An action plan includes the following:

General signs of a relapse and those that may be special to you

They are:

  • Write down the general signs of relapse (see above.)

  • Work with your healthcare provider to find out if you have any special relapse signs.

Treatment options and coping strategies you can use

They are:

  • When you’re feeling well.

  • When you’re noticing early warning signs of relapse.

  • When things are getting worse and you want to prevent a crisis.

Things that need to be taken care of during a relapse

Try and think about:

  • Who will take care of your children, if you have any.

  • Who will manage your money and finances.

  • Which hospital or other facility you'd like to go to.

  • Who to tell if you have a relapse.

Action plans also can include legal documents. Write these when you have few or no symptoms. Ask your healthcare provider and lawyer to help you.

  • An advance directive. This tells your wishes for treatment during a relapse. An advance directive can be very useful if you have severe symptoms of fear or suspicion of others during a relapse.

  • A durable power of attorney. This says who will be in charge of making decisions when you can't decide things for yourself. This document is very helpful if you refuse treatment during a relapse when you would otherwise accept it.

  • A power of attorney. This lets you choose someone to help you deal with money during a relapse. Find someone you trust to co-sign financial documents, such as credit card applications or mortgages. This will help you protect yourself financially while you are having a relapse. 

Author: StayWell Custom Communications
Last Annual Review Date: 3/1/2019
Copyright © The StayWell Company, LLC. except where otherwise noted.
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