You can help prevent relapses (re-occurrence of the illness) by making a few simple lifestyle changes:
The best way to prevent relapses is to take your medicines as recommended by your doctor. It is also important that you keep all your appointments with your doctor. Never just stop your treatment, even if you feel better. If you feel that your medicine is not working, if you start feeling anxious or confused, or if you have problems with side-effects, tell your doctor. He/she may change the dose or change your medicine.
Signs of relapse
Relapse refers to a return of acute symptoms. The signs of relapse may be similar to those that occurred before the first episode. A person may relapse for a number of different reasons, including:
- He/she has stopped taking their medicine
- The dose of his/her medicine is not high enough
- He/she is not receiving enough support from family or social services
- He/she has recently experienced severe stress, such as the death of a loved one
- Drug and/or alcohol abuse
- If you have a relative or friend who has schizophrenia, it is important that you inform his/her doctor straight away if you become aware of any change in his/her behaviour.
Some schizophrenia medicines may cause an increase in appetite and weight gain. Eating a healthy, varied diet and taking regular exercise will help to control your weight. Your doctor or nurse will be able to give you advice about the best type of diet for you.
Some schizophrenia medicines may lower the sex drive. This can usually be dealt with by lowering the dose or switching to another medicine. If you have lost interest in sex, talk to your doctor as he/she may be able to help.
People with schizophrenia have a high risk of developing a substance abuse problem. The use of alcohol and/or drugs increases the risk of having a relapse. If you have a problem with alcohol and/or drugs, ask your doctor for help. If you think your friend or relative is using alcohol and/or drugs, you should consult his/her doctor straight away.