Travel to unfamiliar places can lead to an increase in general arousal and the exacerbation of psychotic symptoms in schizophrenia. Consider these travel tips to help alleviate your patients’ fears that, if left unchecked, can trigger full-blown psychosis.
The range of ways that travel can affect a person’s mental heath needs to be fully addressed by discussing its effects not only on finances but also on sleep, stress levels, personal and professional relationships, medication schedules, feelings of belonging, and identity. The patient needs to be helped to prepare a travel medical portfolio, which might include contact information for people who are to be notified in case of emergency; care providers at home; and physicians, hospitals, and pharmacies that can be accessed as needed. The address and telephone number of the home consulate are useful as well.
Travel can mean separation from a special person, from one’s home, country, and culture. For a patient with long-standing mental illness, travel may mean distance for the first time from trusted care providers and health resources. Separation from attachment figures is known to be intensely anxiety-provoking for patients with preexisting psychosis. Even inanimate objects and familiar routines may be difficult to leave behind.