What to Do When Your PTSD Starts Getting Worse

December 9, 2019 Beth Avery

Healing from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is rarely a linear process. Just like any journey in life, recovering from PTSD has ups and downs. There will be times when things are good and times when things are bad. When PTSD starts getting worse, it can feel frustrating and scary. We know how to handle the good times in PTSD recovery, but what do you do when PTSD symptoms start increasing?

As someone who has had PTSD for around six-eight years, I've had my fair share of both bad and good times in my PTSD recovery. Getting through the rough patches isn't easy, but it is possible. 

What to Do When PTSD Symptoms Get Worse

Don't Lose Sight of How Far You've Come in Your PTSD Recovery

When your PTSD symptoms start getting worse, it's natural to feel disappointed in yourself. Maintaining PTSD recovery is hard work, and falling back into the symptoms and pain of the disorder can feel like a failure. After all the work you've put into your recovery, it can be heartbreaking to see yourself start to slip again. 

However, it's important to remember that going through rough patches in life is normal. Everybody has bad times in life, with or without PTSD. Falling into old habits or seeing an increase in PTSD symptoms doesn't mean you've failed in your recovery. All the positive work you've accomplished in or out of therapy is not diminished when you relapse. The strides you've made during your recovery are still there, and they're still just as valid. 

Learn to Slow Down When Things Get Rough in PTSD Recovery

While seeing an increase in PTSD symptoms isn't something that should cause us to feel shame, it's not a fun experience to go through. Posttraumatic stress disorder can be highly disruptive to day-to-day living, and getting back on track when you're experiencing a relapse should be made a priority.

Over time, I've found that most of my rough patches in PTSD come about when I'm overextending myself in another area of my life. We live in a very high-paced world, so it's natural to put a lot of pressure on ourselves when it comes to work, school, relationships, or any other aspect of our lives. However, it's very difficult to balance all of that when you have PTSD.

Maintaining my PTSD recovery takes an incredible amount of effort and brain space. When I spread myself too thin in other areas of my life, my brain starts to wobble. It can't balance everything I shove at it, and my PTSD symptoms naturally start to flare up.

If you're seeing an increase in your PTSD symptoms, take a step back and evaluate what's going on in your life. Are you getting enough sleep? Are you taking the time to rest and relax? Are there areas of your life outside of PTSD that are becoming overwhelming? With a simple evaluation, you might be able to find the reason behind your relapse.

Recovery from PTSD is difficult. There will be times when you think you have everything figured out and times when you have no idea what's going on. Everyone has those moments. Learn to embrace the tough times in your PTSD recovery. They're not fun, but they're a great chance to learn how to give yourself the love and rest you need. Bad times don't last forever, but the lessons you learn during them can impact you for a lifetime. 

APA Reference
Avery, B. (2019, December 9). What to Do When Your PTSD Starts Getting Worse, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, May 28 from

Author: Beth Avery

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January, 2 2020 at 2:16 pm

I'm going to lay it out in stark terms: I have C-PTSD and one of the reasons Is that I was forced to watch while one of my loved ones died. He was trapped inside Tower 1 of the former World Trade Center, where he worked for a company there. Then, after he was dead, they couldn't even find enough of his earthly remains to make a correct I.D match to his DNA samples we'd given them to make a confirmed death. He's confirmed dead anyway (but without a body) because everyone close to him knows he worked there and he was on their company list as VP of their Manhattan division.
Eighteen months later, my brother was sent to Iraq, my husband of 18 years tossed me over for a foreign woman he'd met 2 weeks before he dropped me, and I fell completely apart. I was given the label Depression, put on medicine and have never been taken off it.
I don't see how my reaction to all that happened between 2001 & 2003 is my fault and why I have to have a label following me around wherever I go for the rest of my life.
What made the PTSD worsen is that they FINALLY set a date for the trial of the living "accused" murderers to take place. Their attorneys tried to force the death penalty off the list of possible sentences if they're found guilty, and THAT'S why it took so long to give them a trial. Their attorneys lied their fool heads off about our gov't "holding these men without a trial" The ATTORNEYS DELIBERATELY CAUSED THAT PROBLEM, NOT THE GOVERNMENT.
And they lost in their efforts. The death sentence is still on the table. If they get it, it will be 5 lives for 2,977. I think it's ok for them to get that sentence; 5 lives for 2,977? It's probably nor doing enough.
Going through all this feels like living in the fires of hell on earth. I would never wish a violent death on any family, not even Osama bin Laden's, and he seemed to take a sick pleasure in making it happen to others.

January, 2 2020 at 2:52 pm

Hi Vicki,
My name is Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer, and I am the comment moderator for all HealthyPlace blog posts. I am sorry to hear about the suffering you have experienced since the events of 9-11. Please see our list of online resources for ways to get help:
Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer
Blog Moderator

January, 4 2020 at 2:27 pm

Hi Vicki, your pain and grief is understandable. It sounds like you’ve been through a lot. Know that things can and do get better. C-PTSD is a tough disorder to battle, but there are avenues for help. Wishing you peace in the new year.

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