For the first time, the present study explores pre-episodic disturbances, i.e. self-experienced vulnerability and prodromal symptoms, and related coping strategies preceding schizophrenic and depressive relapses. After complete recovery from the acute episode, 27 patients with recurrent schizophrenic and 24 patients with recurrent depressive episodes were assessed retrospectively for pre-episodic disturbances and related coping strategies with the “Bonn scale for the assessment of basic symptoms—BSABS”. All (100%) of the schizophrenic and 23 (96%) of the depressive patients showed pre-episodic disturbances. Patients with schizophrenia showed significantly more often an increased emotional reactivity and certain perception and thought disturbances. Depressive patients reported significantly more often an impaired tolerance to certain stress and disorders of emotion and affect. Sixty-three percent of the schizophrenics and 87% of the depressives reacted to pre-episodic disturbances with coping strategies. The pre-episodic disturbances in patients with schizophrenia could be described in terms of mild psychotic productivity, those in depressives in terms of mild depressive syndrome. Future studies will have to show if these findings can be replicated in first episode or initial prodromal state samples and if the assessment of mild psychotic productivity and mild depressive syndrome can be used for early diagnosis and early intervention in schizophrenia and depression.