What makes symptoms worse?
This is a question I get a lot. Some people with schizophrenia disorders feel like their symptoms are random and unpredictable. It’s true that we can’t pinpoint exactly which symptoms are going to be up or down on a specific day, there are things that will usually make them worse. For ways to manage symptoms, see previous blogs. However, if you want to know what NOT to do, keep reading….
Using Alcohol and/or drugs. Over 50% of people with a serious mental illness abuse alcohol or drugs at some point in their lives, and this can really mess with your symptoms. It makes the effectiveness of your meds lower, it makes your emotions fuzzy and numb, and it makes symptoms worse overall. Plus people who are under the influence tend to make poor decisions and be more vulnerable to people taking advantage of them. Alcohol and drugs can make you feel numbed out for a while, but that will be canceled out by the negatives of using.
Ignoring stress. People with schizophrenia disorders are often affected by stress more than people without those disorders. You need to learn about stress management, and use those skills whenever stress comes up. Try to avoid situations that you know will bring you unhealthy stress, such as usign drugs or spending time with unsafe people.
Tinkering with your meds without talking with your doctor. As you know, not every medication affects everyone in the same way. However, if yours aren’t working right, talk with your doctor to come up with a better plan. One of the most common reasons for mental health relapses in people with schizophrenia is stopping meds. Your doctor went to many years of school to learn how to figure out which meds might be a good fit, put your trust in him or her and make sure your doctor knows if you’ve changed your meds.
Not taking care of your physical health. Everyone’s mental health is better when they eat right, get regular exercise, get enough sleep, etc. Take care of your body so that your mind is in good shape.
Spending too much time alone in your home. When you’re by yourself too much, symptoms can start getting worse without you even realize it. Make sure you get out and about and see people 5-7 times a week. Also, friends can be really helpful for support and keeping symptoms away, even if you aren’t talking about your symptoms with them. Just spending time with a good friend helps keep symptoms lower.
Not having any hobbies or daily activities. If you don’t have enough to do, symptoms will creep up. With too much time on your hands, it’s easy to fall into the pattern of sitting there with symptoms going over and over in your head, getting worse and worse. Having daily activities can keep symptoms lower. Examples include hobbies, work, volunteering, going to a drop-in center, or visiting friends.
Never talking about your problems or stress. Everyone benefits from getting support from other people. Friends, family members, crisis lines, therapist, and social workers can all help you get through tough times, whether it’s stress or symptoms getting worse. If you don’t tell anyone, no one can help you get better. Talking about your problems with a trusted person is very important.