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
You can do some things to help prevent a relapse:
- Take your medicines as your doctor suggests. Not taking medicine is the main cause of relapse.
- Reduce stress in your life. This may result in fewer relapses. For more information on reducing stress, see the topic Stress Management.
- Don't drink alcohol or use illegal drugs.
- Go to your counselling sessions and classes even when you don't feel like it or when you think they are not helping you.
- If your doctor recommends family therapy, be sure to have all family members attend each session.
- Join a self-help or support group. Self-help and support groups are usually run by the members of the group, not health professionals.
- Learn the first signs of relapse, and seek help early. Common signs of relapse include:
- Staying away from or not being interested in other people.
- Forgetting things.
- Having problems concentrating.
- Not paying attention to what is going on.
Relapse action plan
An action plan says in writing what you can do to help prevent a relapse and what you need to do if you have signs of a relapse. You will need the help of others to get through a relapse.
An action plan lists the general signs of a relapse and those that may be special to you.
- Write down the general signs above.
- Work with your doctor to find out if you have any special relapse signs.
An action plan lists things that need to be taken care of during a relapse. 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, and ask your doctor and lawyer to help you.
- An advance care plan 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 proxy directive (also called durable power of attorney for health care) says who will be in charge of making decisions when you can't decide things yourself. This document is very helpful if you refuse treatment during a relapse when you would otherwise accept it.
- A power of attorney 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, to protect yourself financially while you are having a relapse.
Current as of: September 23, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Donald Sproule MDCM, CCFP - Family Medicine
Lisa S. Weinstock MD - Psychiatry
Christine R. Maldonado PhD - Behavioral Health