Travel Risks for Those With Serious Mental Illness

Document Type : Review Article


Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada


Introduction: It has been known for a long time in the French-speaking, but not the English-speaking literature that travel can exacerbate pre-existing psychosis. The purpose of this article was to review the literature on this subject and present recommendations for prevention.
Methods: For this narrative review of the literature on travel risks in individuals with pre-existing psychosis, appropriate terms were used to search Google Scholar, and all identified English, French, and Polish references were investigated.
Results: Potential psychotogenic stresses of travel were found to be: mental confusion due to rapid transition into unfamiliar roles, physical discomfort and malaise seeding delusional beliefs, reawakening of old fears, loss of usual supports, overuse of substances to quiet fears, irregular scheduling or interruption of medications, jet lag with insomnia and hormonal shifts, the shock of acculturation, and unaccustomed interpersonal encounters. Women and the elderly were at greatest risk for symptom escalation related to travel.
Conclusion: Travel risks need to be recognized and anticipated in vulnerable populations because many travel stressors are preventable.


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