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Why You Need a Schizophrenia Crisis Plan

By Gina Garippo
Content provided by: Better Medicine from Healthgrades

If you have schizophrenia, it’s important to be prepared in the event a relapse or acute psychotic episode occurs. Taking antipsychotic medications regularly can greatly reduce your risk of relapse, but it isn’t foolproof. Having a crisis plan in place is necessary to ensure that if an event happens, you get the help you need.

A crisis plan gives your loved ones the resources and tools to make quick decisions if you’re at risk. And it offers comfort to everyone involved that there is an agreed-upon plan to follow. It’s important that you are involved in developing the plan, since it gives you a voice in how others care for you.

A crisis plan should include:

  • Symptoms that indicate you are no longer in control. Examples include not sleeping, social withdrawal, increasing paranoia, deteriorating personal hygiene, and/or increasing hostility.

  • A list of people you choose to care for you in the event of a crisis.

  • Emergency contact names and numbers, including doctors, therapists, and the police. Remember, if you are very ill and not willing to go to the hospital, professional backup and support may be needed. In those cases, loved ones should call 911.

  • The address and phone number of the hospital you prefer to go to for emergency psychiatric admission. Hospitalization may be necessary to regain control from a psychotic episode and to ensure your safety.

  • An emergency medical form that includes a list of medications you’re taking and any allergies.

  • A list of friends or relatives who have agreed to take care of children, other dependents, or pets during the crisis.

  • A list of things people should do to help you feel better. Examples may include speaking with a calm voice, allowing you to pace, turning on music, avoiding physical contact, listening without criticizing, and avoiding eye contact.

Review the Plan Together

Once the plan is created, make copies and keep it handy. Review the plan with everyone involved. Remind others that people with schizophrenia are rarely dangerous, even during a psychotic episode. But a crisis plan is a positive tool to help transition out of a crisis as smoothly and quickly as possible. Taking an active role in creating your own plan helps you protect your own well being and take control of your condition.

SAMPLE CRISIS PLAN

In an emergency or crisis situation, I may not be able to take care of myself. During these times, I appoint the following people to make health and/or mental health decisions on my behalf (in order of preference):

1.

2.

3

I DO NOT want the following individual(s) to make decisions regarding my health and/or mental health in an emergency or crisis situation.

1.

2.

3.

Identifying a Crisis Situation
It can be difficult to know when to use a crisis plan. Below at left is a description of your loved one when he or she is stable and in control. At right is a description of when he or she is out of control and needs help.

Follow the crisis plan during times when your loved one is not in control.

How do I look when I am unstable and not in control?

How do I look when I am healthy and stable?

 

Support System

The following are names and contact information of individuals in my support system who can help with other tasks if needed (child or pet care, errands, paying bills, etc.):

Name:

Relationship:

Contact information:

   
   
   
   

Medical Information

Below are the doctors and mental health professionals I am currently seeing: 

Physician name and role in my medical care

Contact information

   
   
   
   

Below is the list of medications (both prescription and over-the-counter) that I currently take:

Drug name

Dosage and frequency

   
   
   
   

This is my pharmacy information:

I am allergic to:

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

Care Strategy

I would prefer to be treated at these hospitals:

1.

2.

I would prefer to AVOID these hospitals:

1.

2.

Things others can do to help me feel better:

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

Things others should AVOID because they make me feel worse:

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

   
   

Note: Sample plan adapted from Mental Health America.

Medical Reviewer: Christoph Correll, MD Last Annual Review Date: 10/4/2010 Copyright: © 2000-2010 The StayWell Company, 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

Reference: Mental Health and Behavior section on Better Medicine


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