After we get help with our PTSD, we have to think about relapse. We tend to associate relapse with drug or alcohol use, but this simply means a period of deterioration after a period of improvement. This can happen with PTSD, depression, anxiety, or pretty much anything relating to our health (mental or physical).
Relapse happens, and it’s not the end of the world when it does.
One of the chief components of a good relapse prevention plan is to increase self-awareness and be aware of our behavior and thoughts. This is key because recognizing what triggers a relapse, and catching ourselves in negative thoughts or behaviors, is step one in our plan to get back on back on track.
What Are Your Warning Signs?
These can be things, such as the experience of certain emotions, changes in thoughts, or changes in behavior. You may run into a reminder of your trauma or get pulled into a conversation about something that reminds you of it. Anniversaries of a traumatic event are also unavoidable and are often associated with a resurgence in PTSD symptoms.
Pay special attention to sudden changes in mood or thoughts like:
“No one cares about me or what I do. What’s the point of going on?”
“I can’t stand being around anyone!”
“Maybe a drink or two will take the edge off my feelings for a little.”
“I don’t remember the last time I showered. I don’t have the energy to do anything these days.”
“Therapy is a waste of time.”
Awareness of your warning signs will allow you to catch yourself and implement coping strategies you learned during treatment. Recognition is step one towards stopping these PTSD symptoms before they have a chance to become unmanageable. If you need to, this would also be a good time to check in with your therapist, loved ones, and support groups.
“If you believe change is possible, you want to change, and you are willing to do the work, you absolutely CAN get your life back.”