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Relapses in Schizophrenia, Signs and Symptoms for Early Diagnosis

Abstract: How large is a risk for a relapse in schizoprenia after successful treatment, and what signs should you look for to indicate that a relapse may be forthcoming.

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Relapses in Schizophrenia, Signs and Symptoms for Early Diagnosis

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Question(s): 
Written by: Fabio Piccini, doctor and Jungian psychotherapist, in charge of the "Centre for Eating Disorders Therapy" at the "Malatesta Novello" Clinic in Cesena. Works privately in Rimini and Chiavari. E-mail:
First version: 22 Jul 2008.
Latest revision: 24 Aug 2008.

What are the signs and symptoms to look for in relapse prevention of schizophrenia?

Answer:

After a successful hospital treatment has relieved the acute symptoms of schizophrenia, and if a home community care program is regularly followed, and if the prescribed drugs are precisely taken, a new episode of the disease is quite a rare event.

But for a better case management it's extremely important for you to learn and identify some early signs and symptoms of an acute relapse of the disease.

As a general rule of thumb, you should learn to be alert for any change in state, appearance, thoughts, affective state, and behaviour of your relative particularly during the first two years of recovery after hospital dismission.

This means that if you want to be advised of an earlier relapse you should look for:

  • a newly developed sleeping disturbance, or unusual awakenings
  • the development of a new social avoidance, and/or new problems/difficulties in social relations
  • a new hyper-activity or an unusual tiredness
  • a new hostility towards relatives, friends and/or colleagues
  • unusual emotions, affects, or bizarre behaviours
  • strange and pervasive thoughts and perceptions (including delusions and hallucinations)
  • the use of a strange/unusual language
  • strange disappearances or get always from home or workplace
  • any new fear, suspiciousness or compulsive behaviour

If you feel these changes are significant and persistent, then you'd better ask for an expert opinion from your community care team, and discuss your concern with them. They will give you the best advice and support to prevent the crisis.

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