Schizophrenia is a chronic illness. The risk of relapse is high. According to the statistics, symptoms of the illness recur within 12 months in 75% of patients. The risk of relapse significantly decreases, if pharmacological treatment is continued in accordance with the physician's recommendations. However, a relapse is possible even when the patient adheres to medication regimen.
It may, however, be early identified and quickly counteracted. May patients demonstrate specific symptoms, indicating the relapse of schizophrenia (relapse signature) Warning signs of the first relapse of the illness are the most difficult to recognise. In subsequent situations, the knowledge about the syndrome of relapse preceding symptoms in a given patient is already acquired.
The studies show that the chances for relapse identification, based on the patient's specific early premonitory signs, apply to 75-81% of patients. As a rule, deterioration of the patient's condition usually does not occur overnight. About a half of patients experience prodromes one month before and 2/3 two weeks before relapse, which allows for initiation of adequate relapse preventing actions. The risk of relapse decreases even more, as long as the family and the patient himself/herself learn to recognize the prodromes of illness recurrence at their early stage. These symptoms are very individual and may be different in case of each patient.
The risk of relapse decreases even more, as long as the family and the patient himself/herself learn to recognize the prodromes of illness recurrence at their early stage. These symptoms are very individual and may be different in case of each patient.
What is "relapse signature” ?
It is a symptom/a few symptoms specific for a particular patient, usually not typical for schizophrenia, which "warn about" each subsequent relapse of psychosis. "Relapse signature" can be established with the schizophrenic person, recalling what had preceded the last relapse/last relapses of psychosis, comparing, for example, the lists of these symptoms, drawn up by the ill person and his or her relatives. It is also possible to make use of scientific reports.
Early signals of psychosis relapse, developed by Birchwood, a British psychiatrist:
|My thinking is preoccupied with only one or two things|
|Feeling sad or low|
|Feeling people do not understand what I am saying to them|
|Having difficulty concentrating|
|Feeling that some part of thoughts in my head does not belong to me|
|Feeling as if I am being watched|
|I feel very calm or isolated|
|I forget about many things|
|It is easy for me to talk about sex|
|The way I speak is bizarre to others|
|My sleep is restless|
|I behave oddly|
|It is difficult for me to cope with everyday tasks|
|I make crazy jokes|
|I talk or smile to myself|