Minimizing Relapse

A relapse occurs when symptoms worsen or reappear. Here are some ways you can reduce your risk of relapse:

  • Stay on medication. Medication is the cornerstone of treatment, and discontinuing use without informing your physician is dangerous.
  • Talk to the team. Ask your psychiatrist, case manager, therapist and other providers you’re working with how to avoid a relapse. They should have many preventative tips.
  • Be aware of warning signs. Watch out for general warning signs, unique-to-you precursors and changes in sleeping and eating patterns. For instance, bad relationships may trigger a relapse for one person, whereas excessive sleep and desire for isolation do for another.
  • If a relapse happens, know what to do. Talk with your providers about the best ways to manage a relapse should it happen.
  • Stay in regular contact with clinicians. Others will usually pick up on the warning signs before you do, so even when “symptoms are in remission and function is good,” stay in contact, Dr. Rose said.
  • Stay in contact with your support system. Stress is a risk factor for relapse. Dr. Rose suggested staying involved with loved ones as much as possible.

Disclosing Your Diagnosis

Should you tell others about your diagnosis? According to Velligan, you may want to tell close family and friends, who can “participate in groups that provide education about the illness and how to help their (loved one) manage symptoms.” Telling employers is an “individual decision.” Velligan suggested informing employers in a supported employment program, because the employer will be more willing to work with the employment specialists to help you improve your job performance.

“This is a time of great hope for individuals” with schizophrenia, said Velligan. “There are many new medication treatments and psychosocial treatments that work to improve a broad range of outcomes.”


Green, A.I., Drake, R.E., Brunette, M.F., & Noordsy, D.L. (2007). Schizophrenia and co-occurring substance use disorder. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 164, 402-408.

Additional Resources