responding to acute episodes

Even with the best of care and management, your family member will likely experience setbacks on her recovery journey. Relapse can happen. Sometimes a crisis can occur without any warning signs. Acute episodes need to be responded to as quickly as possible. The goal is to find a way to lessen the symptoms and to provide support to your family member during the episode. Safety and protection are also issues that must be considered.

One way of providing support is to offer choices to your family member when you can. Giving your family member options may give her more of a sense of control. An acute episode can be frightening. Try to keep in mind that your family member may be as frightened as you are.

If your family member needs to be hospitalized, she will likely need a lot of support. Focus on the benefits that being in hospital has to offer – how it will help to reduce the symptoms and get your family member back on track to recovery.

Involuntary admission is an unpleasant experience for everyone involved. It is always best if the person agrees to go to the hospital. Unfortunately, this is not always possible. You should be prepared for the possibility that your family member may need to be admitted to hospital against her will. (Nova Scotia’s Involuntary Psychiatric Treatment Act includes rules for involuntary admission.)

When your family member is feeling better, set aside time to discuss the experience. Try to learn as much as you can from the experience. What worked? What could have been done differently?