Emotional and mental relapse can take an extreme toll on the progress of your recovery. It can be hard to recognize when you are experiencing a mental relapse; however, there are many signs to keep an eye out for. If you notice yourself engaging in these behaviors, it is important to reestablish your recovery goals and use the skills you have learned to get back on track with your recovery process.

Signs of Emotional and Mental Relapse

The following signs of mental and emotional relapse are focused on those struggling with addiction. That said, the signs are still applicable for those dealing with any form of mental illness. Emotional and mental relapses are the initial factors that lead to a full relapse. It is important to recognize these in their beginning stages so you can counteract them and prevent the behaviors from resulting in a physical relapse.

Building Up Emotions

If you find yourself frequently pushing away your emotions during recovery, they are most likely still trapped in your head and waiting to burst out. After a buildup of small occurrences and distress, you eventually need to let your feelings out. If you allow this buildup to happen, it can result in an extreme level of anger, violent behavior, or inability to process your emotions.

Issues that cause you stress should be processed, if not resolved, without too much delay. Allowing time to cool down before resolving them is recommended, but pushing your distress aside and never getting back to the issue creates more problems in the long run. Process when you need to and avoid allowing your emotions to build up past your mental control.


If you notice yourself avoiding social interactions and spending much more time alone than usual, this is a sign that you are undergoing an emotional relapse. During this kind of relapse, you may find it hard to engage with others and put a fake smile on your face. To avoid this, you might subconsciously begin to isolate yourself from others and avoid communication. You might be engaging in this behavior if you find yourself missing meetings or not participating in group activities, meetings, or therapy.

Changing Focus

When experiencing an emotional relapse, you may find that you lose the overall focus of your goals in recovery. It is common for individuals to start concerning themselves with the problems of other individuals but avoid understanding their own problems. They may also lose their focus altogether and forget about their goals for recovery. If you are no longer focused on your goals and progress in recovery, you are most likely experiencing an emotional relapse.

Increased Cravings

Cravings to engage in a problem behavior originate from your thoughts. If you are experiencing a mental relapse, you often are letting go of your control over your thoughts. This often will bring back cravings for the problem behavior you are trying to step away from and can lead you towards a physical relapse after a mental relapse.

If this behavior is not stopped, it can lead to thoughts about your past with problem behavior and increase the chances you will look for an opportunity to reengage with substances. It is important not to indulge these thoughts because they reinforce the idea that your engagement in the problem behavior is justified. 


If lying is not usually a common behavior for you, then this sign is very important to notice. If you find yourself suddenly lying about major or minor situations, you are creating an altered reality for yourself and others to believe. Lying takes the biggest toll when it is about your recovery progress. If you are dishonest about your progress and pretend to be doing better than you are, you are catering to a form of mental relapse and setting yourself back in your recovery process.


It is common for individuals experiencing mental relapse to deny their failures or downplay the effects that their negative actions may have upon their recovery. While it is important to not dwell on mistakes or past situations, it is also important to observe them and learn from them. If you find yourself disregarding situations that you could have improved in, you are pushing away from your goals of changing.

Denial is one of the most important aspects to keep in mind because it is the opposite of self-honestly. To have a successful recovery and accomplish your goals, you have to be brutally honest with yourself about your actions, progress, and feelings. Trying to avoid accountability will only set you up for a harder adjustment later on in recovery.

Emotional and mental relapses can have a slow onset and be hard to recognize. There are a variety of signs that can alert you that you are reaching a dangerous emotional or mental state. Frequently building up emotions, self-isolating, changing focus away from recovery, experiencing increased cravings, lying, and engaging in denial are behaviors that lead to emotional and mental relapses. It is important to recognize these behaviors as soon as possible because they can lead to a full state of relapse if not counteracted. Each of these behaviors can have an overall negative effect on the progress of your treatment and mental well-being. Observing when you act on these behaviors and noticing when they are drastically increased can help you to avoid falling further into emotional and mental relapse. To learn more about recognizing these signs of emotional and mental relapse, reach out to DREAM RECOVERY at (949) 732-1960.

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