Mental illness is something that most everyone in the country can relate to in one way or another. If a person doesn’t have a mental illness themselves, chances are someone they know does. Mental illness is so pervasive that it affects 1 in 5 Americans. Of the several mental illnesses that exist, ranging from mild depression to antisocial personality disorder, anxiety disorders are the most common in the United States, with 40 million people affected. Right behind anxiety is depression, which occurs in nearly 7% of all Americans. So, while mental illness is something that everyone is familiar with, it still remains something that has a stigma attached to it. Many people still hold onto the notion that having a mental illness is the equivalent to weakness or negativity, when in reality, having a mental illness is relatively normal. When mental illness is properly treated, it can be easily managed so that individuals can live their best lives. But unfortunately, it still remains difficult for people to realize the true ins and outs of what living with a mental illness is like, including what it is like to have a mental illness relapse. The best way to shed light on mental illness, though, is to talk about it.
What is a Mental Illness Relapse?
The word ‘relapse’ is most commonly used to describe recovered addicts and alcoholics who have started drinking or drugging again after remaining sober for a period of time. But relapse is also something that occurs frequently in those with a mental illness.
Mental illnesses cannot be cured, only treated. This means that in order to keep your mental illness from taking control of your life, you need to receive the appropriate care and maintain your wellness for the rest of your life. When you neglect the needs of your mental illness and your overall wellbeing, you can set yourself up for a mental illness relapse, which can become deeply distressing.
A mental illness relapse is defined by the return of prominent symptoms associated with the mental illness and a person’s decreased functioning as a result of those symptoms. But, a mental illness relapse is not something that just occurs overnight. Rather, a mental illness relapse develops over time.
So, what are some of the warning signs that a person might be on the road towards a mental illness relapse? Everyone is different and unique when it comes to their mental health, however there are some common denominator symptoms that are often seen across the board. They include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Changes in sleep patterns, such as suddenly sleeping too much or too little
- No longer taking medication regularly or at all
- Socially withdrawing from others
- Feeling on edge
- Poor personal hygiene
- Increase in risk-taking behaviors
When these warning signs become noticeable, it is imperative to try to intervene prior to them growing worse. By intervening, a full on mental relapse can be avoided.
Addressing a Mental Illness Relapse
Someone who is experiencing a mental illness relapse is someone who is seeing the onset of their symptoms once again. This means, depending on the type of mental illness they have, that they are no longer in control of their mental illness. For example, someone who struggles with depression but who has been treated for it effectively can relapse. That relapse may look like an inability to get out of bed, detachment from surroundings, low motivation to engage in the smallest of activities, and so on. It might also include no longer taking prescribed medication or speaking with their therapist. Or, someone who has an anxiety disorder is relapsing if their symptoms (such as panic, fear, and irrational thoughts) begin taking over once again and leave them struggling to function on a regular basis. The most important thing to do when a mental illness relapse occurs is to try to nip it in the bud as quickly as possible. The longer that a relapse lasts, the more pieces there will be to pick up. Some of the ways to address a mental illness relapse can include the following:
- Calling a therapist, psychologist, or other mental health provider who has provided services in the past
- Reconnect with members of a support network, such as a local community support group
- Call the doctor and request an appointment
- Tell close friends and family about what is going on
- Take time off of work, school, etc.
- Practice good self-care
- Participate in yoga or other meditation-style activities
- Refer to a previously developed relapse plan
Many people who struggle with mental illness develop a relapse plan for if they do experience a relapse. What that plan might include the following:
- List of emergency contacts such as doctors, therapists, etc.
- Medication history
- List of triggers for relapse
- Contact information for members of a support group
A relapse plan is home to all the information that a person (or their loved ones) needs to help them get back on track. As mentioned before, the sooner that a person bounces back from a relapse, the better their overall outcome will be.
Do You Need Help? Call Us Right Now. You Are Not Alone.
Having a mental illness is no fun. No one ever wants to have to deal with something that challenges them on a daily basis, but unfortunately, if you have a mental illness, then you are facing down those challenges. The good news is, however, that you do not need to live alone in your mental illness. We understand how difficult and painful it can be to try to get through the symptoms of your mental illness all on your own. That is why we encourage you to call us right now because you are far from alone.
Do not let one more minute pass you by without getting the help that you deserve. Call us today to learn more about how we can support you on your journey towards mental wellness.