Dr Oluwayemi Ogun, Medical Director, Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital Yaba, has identified relapse as a major challenge in the management and treatment of psychiatric ailments.
Ogun, who made the observation in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Friday, said that relapses occur when addicts purposely seek out drug use.
According to her, relapse is bound to occur especially when the psychiatric condition is caused by drug abuse, drug addiction or over dependence on toxic substances.
“Relapse becomes more common especially when psychiatric condition is caused by drug abuse or drug addiction.
“This is because it is difficult for a drug addict, after recovery from rehabilitation centre to completely avoid drug use and adopt a new lifestyle.
“A person who is trying to stop using drugs can make mistakes, feel bad, or perceive it and start using again.
“Also, during the recovery process, addicts will inevitably face stress from work or family, which compels them to start using drugs again. The cravings for drugs never completely vanish, and they’ll return in full force during periods of stress,” she said.
Ogun, therefore, advised psychiatric patients to take their medications regularly to prevent relapse of their ailment.
She further said that psychiatric medication seems to be a lifetime therapy because a break in the medication may result to reoccurrence of symptoms of the ailment.
She noted that it was important for psychiatric patients to adhere strictly to medication saying, “because of the kind of patients we deal with here, compliance to taking their medications is a challenge.’’
“That is why we do patients-counselling to ensure that we educate them on the need to take the drugs accordingly as prescribed.
“We try to educate them that mental illness is not different from any other illnesses like hypertension, diabetes and stroke; but they just have to take their drugs.
“One of the reasons some do not take their medications is because of the side effects, but there are drugs that have lighter side effects.
“They just have to take the drugs to prevent relapse because we find out that many of the patients keep coming in and out of the hospital due to relapse,“ she said.
The doctor said that relapses could have devastating consequences for people with mental disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression or anxiety disorder.
She pointed out that after every relapse, it might become increasingly difficult to regain control over the ailment or the symptoms.
She added that for this reason, it was important for people with mental disorder to do everything possible to reduce the risk of a relapse. (NAN)