If someone has gone without symptoms of a mental health condition for an extended period, they are said to be in recovery. If these symptoms return, it is called a relapse.
The term is also used in the context of substance use disorders, though saying someone had a “relapse” could imply that they chose to “give in” to their condition. Reserving the term for when someone uses it to describe their own experience helps avoid stigmatizing an individual. When addiction symptoms (cravings, withdrawal, etc.) become so severe that they result in a resumption of drug use, nuanced reporting can tell that story without implying that the resumption of substance use was a moral failure.
It’s Time to Quit … Using Stigmatizing Words Like Relapse (Deni Carise, PhD/Medium)
Relapse refers to the return of a condition after a symptom-free period. The term “relapse” is used in the context of both mental health diagnoses and substance use disorders, though using the term to describe the latter can imply a moral failure. Reserving the term for when someone uses it to describe their own experience helps avoid stigmatizing an individual.