Persons-in-recovery from a mental health condition may sometimes experience a relapse when they encounter stressful situations.
Reduce The Risks
But you can help your loved one reduce the risks that may lead up to a relapse:
Advise your loved one to continue taking their medications and ensure they have adequate supplies that are regularly topped up.
Look For Warning Signs
Some common warning signs are
- Lack of sleep or excessive sleep
- Weight loss or gain
- Irritability or anger
- Withdrawal from friends, family, or colleagues
Identify common triggers. Agree on specific steps to take should any triggers or early signs of relapse occur. For example, your loved one can agree to reach out to trusted family and friends, take steps to identify the specific people they would reach out to.
Reinforce Healthy Coping to manage stress
- Face the stressors slowly and gradually
- Allocate time for self care
- Cut back on non-essential responsibilities
- Have realistic expectations of the situation
Seek Professional Help
Consult your loved ones healthcare professional if needed. Have a plan in place on what you can do to support your loved one in the event they fall back into a relapse.
Download the Mental Health Caregiver Helpsheet here.
A crisis is defined as a sudden unexpected situation with a severity that overwhelms a person’s coping mechanisms. What determines a ‘crisis’ can differ from person to person.
For example, a child whose pet dies may face a crisis, as may a person who faces the loss of a spouse or friend. When undergoing crisis, a person may show the following responses:
- Emotional: Feelings of denial, helplessness, shock or anger
- Physical: Hyperventilation, lethargy, gastric pain, insomnia, weight loss
In cases of major crisis, a person may experience hallucinations, have suicidal thoughts, pose a danger to self or others, or display symptoms severe enough to affect functioning. In these cases, professional help is recommended and there are many resources in the community. General Practitioners (GPs), Family Service Centres (FSCs), school or company counsellors, and emergency helplines like the Samaritans of Singapore (SOS: 1800-221-4444) or the IMH Helpline: 6389 2222, can serve as a first-stop for help.
While it is a fact that crisis can happen to anyone, some important things to note are:
- Everyone can be affected by a crisis, but may react differently in their own ways
- Everyone can recover from a crisis, but at their own pace
- Everyone is capable of attending to and helping another person in distress
- Caregivers need to take care of themselves as well, while caring for the person in distress
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