How can Relapse be prevented?

Patients can prepare themselves in case of relapse in order to reduce relapse rate. If past symptoms recur, families and patients should pay extra care. 

Four steps in relapse prevention:

  1. Understand cues in relapse
  2. Find out relevant issues
  3. Propose preventive measures 
  4. Establish supporting systems

Step One: Understand Cues in Relapse

Cues in relapse vary from person to person. Early detection benefits early intervention, resulting in better relapse prevention. The cues fall into several categories: 
Cognitive and Affective Level Behavioural Level
Difficulty in concentrating, worrying, mood problem, anxiety, suicidal ideation, suspicion, suspecting that one is under surveillance, reappearance of auditory hallucination, oversensitivity to sound Frequent insomnia, loss or increase in appetite, alcohol or drug abuse, aberrant behaviours, repetitive behaviours, disorganized speech, social withdrawal, lack of interest to surrounding things, indifference to appearance, behaviours and changes in habits 
Alert to the cues, families can encourage patients to talk over the problems openly and consult doctors together to prevent the situation from deteriorating. 

Step Two: Find Out Relevant Issues

Relapse is caused by inducing factors. Patients should identify issues related to relapse, propose measures to enhance coping abilities, and attempt to handle the problem optimistically. It helps stabilize the condition. The inducing factors are as follows: lack of sleep, difficulties in learning, social conflicts, challenges in life, abusing alcohols and drugs, taking drugs without following instructions, facing setbacks, etc. The abovementioned situations are just examples, as everyone’s experience and reaction are different, we should cope with patients’ situation optimistically.

Step Three: Propose Preventive Measures

After identifying relevant issues, patients and families can propose measures to prevent relapse, for example, acquiring habits of taking drugs regularly, setting healthy living patterns and handling the source of stress. Families can propose the measures together, and provide support and assistance when necessary. Some patients may think that they can stop medication themselves provided that the symptoms get better. However, this heightens the chance of relapse. Taking medicines and going to follow-up consultation does not indicate that the patients have not yet recovered. Despite the disappearance of symptoms, doctors will advise patients to take medicines for duration of time based on different needs, so as to prevent relapse. 

Step Four: Establish Supporting Systems

Patients may display involuntary symptoms and emotions. If they lack understanding of the illness, the families will blame the patients wrongly. Thus, families should criticize less, know more about psychosis, and provide cares, encouragements and supports. Over-high expectations should be avoided in order to reduce relapse rate and adapt to new life. Besides of families, people who have close relationship with the patient, such as friends, colleagues and medical professions, can also become part of the supporting system.
Patients and families and adopt the following method, to jot down some simple preventive measures: