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Relapse of Schizophrenia

Topic Overview

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 counseling sessions and classes even when you don't feel like it or when you think they are not helping you.
  • 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.
    • Daydreaming.
    • 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 directive 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 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.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Lisa S. Weinstock, MD - Psychiatry
Last Revised August 31, 2012

Last Revised: August 31, 2012

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