What You Should Know about PTSD Relapse

When it comes to recovery with PTSD, the road isn’t a straight shot to the other side. As many PTSD survivors can attest, the road will have many twists and turns, some uphill slumps, some plateaus and most definitely some coasting downhill. On your road to recovery from PTSD, you might experience some, none, or all of these conditions but you also might have a relapse and that’s okay too. 

The saying about recovery within the PTSD community is that what works for you now or most of the time, may not work all of the time. The best thing you can learn about recovery is that it’s not necessary to go 100 mph forward without faltering, what matters is that you make steady progress over time, remaining pointed in the right direction for your personal goals of recovery. 

When you’re recovering from PTSD and the associated symptoms, your body goes through many changes. Physically, mentally, emotionally, and especially within your brain and central nervous systems. Because PTSD and the symptoms are associated with internal and external stimuli, you need time to adjust to your body’s new processes and reactions to those stimuli. 

Things that can have an effect on your day to day recovery and triggers include your entire health and well-being. If you’re getting adequate sleep, getting exercise, eating right, and maintaining a positive outlook, you might be able to overcome an incoming trigger better than after a night of fitful and broken sleep. 

Another important factor to consider is that your brain requires time to adjust to changes, as your brain learns new information, coping skills, and reactions, it’ll also need time to make sense of all the new information. Processing this information includes organizing it, integrating it, and implementing those changes in a healthy and long-lasting way. 

When you feel like you’re stuck in a slump or experiencing a relapse, remember to go easy on yourself, don’t lose sight of all your progress, and account for the slower-recuperation time your brain and body might need after big bouts of progress. 


Rosenthal, M. “PTSD Recovery: Progress and Relapse”. Healthy Place. (website). June 2013 

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