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In the mental health field, relapse signs refer to those physical, behavioral, and emotional signals that indicate a return or increase in the active symptoms of an illness. In comparison, relapse signs in our spiritual life journey can be defined as those negative feelings or thoughts, that resurrect themselves in our thought patterns during certain periods of our lives, and that keep us from living a fulfilled godly life. Symptoms of a pending relapse can include: an increase in psychotic symptoms, increased isolation, reoccurrence of negative feelings or thoughts, and a decrease in the participation of healthy behaviors, such as bible study and prayer. But each person is different, so the relapse sign or signs that I experience may be different from yours. So it is important for you to be aware of your own personal signals, and then be prepared to make changes, before those relapse signs usher in a full blown reoccurrence of your illness. The earlier you are able to identify your relapse signs, the quicker you can get the help that you need, whether it be a medication change, or in the case of a spiritual relapse, additional time in prayer.
In reality, many people who are living with a severe mental illness even while taking their medications, still experience ongoing or reoccurring psychiatric symptoms. Similarly, some Christians still engage in negative thinking, and self-defeating behaviors from time to time. But ongoing or reoccurring symptoms do not have to lead to a mental, or spiritual relapse. Please understand that your ongoing or reoccurring symptoms may not be as severe or intense as the active symptoms of your illness, but they can in some cases help you to monitor your stress levels and then make some changes. For example, let’s say that even with use of medications and ongoing visits to your psychiatrist, you still hear low, muffled voices every now and then. But over the last few weeks, you have noticed an increase in these voices. Well by taking a minute to think about the events that have recently occurred in your life, you may find that the increase in your symptoms are directly related to a change or recent stressor in your life. By evaluating the circumstances and events associated with the increase in your reoccurring symptoms, you may be able to make some changes in your life before your symptoms become unmanageable. An increase in symptoms does not necessarily mean that you are headed for a relapse, or that you need to be hospitalized. Increased symptoms do however, signal a need for you to contact your doctor as soon as possible.
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