Tag Archives: Relapse Prevention

Mental Problems Relapse Prone Situation

Relapse Prevention plays a big part in treatment of mental disorders. It normally involves two parts, (1) to identify high risk situations, what are the situations that are likely to cause relapse? (2) to prepare of coping plans, what would you do if you find that you are in one of these situations and feeling overwhelming?

Here are some general examples of relapse-prone situations to most commonly seen psychological, mental or psychiatric problems. There are normally some high-risk situations that are specific to each individual and the psychological problem that s/he has.

  • Stress: from any source really, it could be accumulative, or due to single (major) event
  • Negative emotional states, such as anger, anxiety, depression, frustration, and boredom
  • Physical illness: when you don’t feel well physically, your emotions are affected too
  • Social isolation (Very important! Face-to-face social interaction has been found to reduce risk of depression, yes F2F, not through whatsapp or instagram!)
  • Major life transition events (graduating from college, starting a new job, getting a promotion, getting married, becoming a parent, ending a relationship, loss & grief, moving house etc)
  • Going back to the environment that is related to your onset of previous episode(s)
  • Social pressure, interpersonal conflicts (especially for relapse of addictions)

So yes, do pay attention if you are in one or some of those abovementioned situations, and watch out for those early warning signs, including by watching out how your sleep patterns, appetite, mood level and (physical & social) activity level are.

Why do I need Psychotherapy on top of Medication?

Case 1:

My OCD client. She used to take medication many years ago, and has stopped after her condition was well under control and they were planning for pregnancy. The symptoms came back quite aggressively during her pregnancy, but with the support of her husband and family, she didn’t take any medication till her delivery, then she found me. We started psychotherapy (mainly mindfulness and Exposure Response Prevention) few months back, if you ask her what her advice was based on her experience, she would tell you, “I should have started psychotherapy when I was taking medication. That was when my symptoms were less intense with the medication, and the exposure would have been much easier. That way I could learn the techniques and use it later when I no longer medication. I wasted the opportunity. When my symptoms returned and I couldn’t take medication, I don’t know what I can do at all. I struggled till my baby was delivered.”

Case 2.

My anxiety client. She was referred to me by a psychiatric consultant, when we first met, she was rather cheerful and calm, and was tailing off the medication instructed by her doctor. Then she never came back for follow up. Till two months later, she texted me saying she had been so anxious and was unable to sleep for the past nights. We had our second session where she learnt some coping skills. When I followed up with her over the phone, she told me she was much better practicing what I told her to, and was able to sleep. Another month gone, and I received her text again saying she was under much stress and worrying a lot. She asked if there was anything she could do to stop worrying and being so anxious about things. I told her to come back for a follow up session.

 

Psychotherapy doesn’t work like tranquiliser. You pop the pill into your mouth, within 15 minutes or so you get much calmer. Psychotherapy doesn’t work like anti-depressants either. You take the medication regularly for few weeks, your depressed mood, your anxiety and OCD symptoms subside significantly.

However, psychotherapy equips you with coping skills and techniques, if you practice regularly, it becomes YOURS. You become your own therapist. When you spot the early warning signs and symptoms, you can treat yourself, without medication, without any wait.

So when you get much more stable after taking medication, it’s always good to start psychotherapy, which help you tail off medication more easily, understand yourself and the illness better, and prevent future relapse better.