What is Relapse of Mental Illness and Why Is It Important to Address It?

Dr. Archana Shukla

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Archana Shukla


4 min read

Key Takeaways

  • Stress, alcohol or drug consumption can cause relapse of mental illness
  • Study the causes of relapse properly for preventing mental health relapse
  • Consult a doctor without delay for preventing relapse of a mental illness
Like physical health, mental health also plays a crucial role in your wellbeing. Both are equally important in leading a healthy life. It is an alarming fact that more than 14% of the global population suffer from neuropsychiatric disorders [1]. Mental illness is often underestimated because of the lack of knowledge about its link to other health disorders. Be it depression or anxiety, recognizing a mental illness<span data-contrast="auto"> is the first step towards better health.

The term relapse means you tend to become worse after showing some improvements. While this term is used for alcohol or substance misuse too, relapse of mental illness is also possible. In such a situation, you may see certain mental illness symptoms reoccur in yourself or your loved ones while on the road to recovery [2]. To understand more about mental illness relapse and its warning signs, read on.

What Does a Relapse of Mental Illness Look Like?

Understanding mental health relapse is essential to be more informed about mental health. When you notice certain symptoms of mental ailments reappearing in your loved ones post recovery, it may be due to a relapse. The pattern of relapse may differ among people. In such cases, you may notice a specific set of symptoms appearing constantly. The severity of these symptoms depends on the type of disorder.

How well you address and treat these symptoms also plays a vital role in cases of mental illness relapse. For instance, if your loved ones had bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, symptoms like mood swings or hallucinations may reoccur. So, you should enlist proper treatment immediately. In this way, the condition is managed better and preventing mental relapse becomes easier.

relapse of mental illness

How Is a Mental Illness Relapse Caused?

There are many factors responsible for the relapse of mental illness. It depends on your treatment and period of recovery. For preventing relapse of a mental illness, you need to understand its cause.

Few Causes That Can Trigger a Relapse Include the Following [3].

  • Stress 
  • Change in the dosage of medicines 
  • Excessive drug or alcohol consumption 
  • Avoiding medicines
  • Change in medicines
  • Hormonal fluctuations

Consult a doctor immediately when you notice behavioral changes in yourself or your loved ones. Take care not to change any medication without consulting the doctor. In case treatment in ongoing, avoid alcohol and drugs. They can interfere with the function of medicines or result in addiction. Most importantly, stay relaxed and understand your self-worth. Know the umpteen benefits medicines and therapies can provide you and stay happy.

mental illness triggers

What Are the Warning Signs and Symptoms of Mental Illness Relapse?

With awareness of early warning signs, a relapse of mental illness can be avoided. So, heed these important symptoms of mental illness relapse.

Here is a list of some warning signs.

  • Irritable behavior
  • Irregularities in sleeping patterns
  • Inability to relax or concentrate
  • Being forgetful
  • Staying isolated from everyone
  • Body aches
  • Changes in appetite

How Can Mental Illness Relapse Be Addressed?

It is important to address mental illness relapse without delay. If your loved one is recovering from depression, a relapse may include the following.  

  • Feeling detached
  • Not being able to concentrate on any activity
  • Questioning self-worth 

You may also notice that your loved one is not taking medications or consulting a doctor. With awareness, you can help nip such problems in the bud.

relapse of mental illness

To Address a Relapse, Here Are a Few Tips You May Follow.

  • Consult a therapist or psychiatrist 
  • Involve family and friends 
  • Encourage adoption of self-care techniques<span data-ccp-props="{"134233279":true,"201341983":0,"335559740":276}">
  • Practice yoga and meditation together 
  • Make the person realize their worth and increase their confidence
Additional read7 Important Ways to Take Care of Family Members with Psychiatric Problems

The best way forward for preventing mental health relapse is to show support to your loved ones. Love and affection can help people recover from a relapse easily. Watch out for the warning signs of mental illness relapse and take action at once. Connect to top psychiatrists on Bajaj Finserv Health. Book an online doctor consultation to address your queries from the comfort of your home. Following this, you can take your loved ones for an in-person consultation. Provide them with the help they need at the right time.

Published on 21 Oct 2021Last updated on 12 Apr 2023
  1. http://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5479084/
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2214139117301063
  3. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1037/0002-9432.74.3.365

Please note that this article is solely meant for informational purposes and Bajaj Finserv Health Limited (“BFHL”) does not shoulder any responsibility of the views/advice/information expressed/given by the writer/reviewer/originator. This article should not be considered as a substitute for any medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult with your trusted physician/qualified healthcare professional to evaluate your medical condition. The above article has been reviewed by a qualified doctor and BFHL is not responsible for any damages for any information or services provided by any third party.

Dr. Archana Shukla

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Archana Shukla

, MBBS 1 , MD - Psychiatry 3


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