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 2024, July 22 from

Author: Beth Avery

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Christine Sarno Doyle
April, 5 2021 at 8:29 am

Thank you. Much of what you address is how my life works.
I recently came across this statement: "Trauma makes everything feel like life or death." That is how my anxiety feels when there's too much on my plate. ... That "too much", however, would have been "normal" before the post-traumatic stress. The statement stayed with me and I decided to search for more. I googled and found your article.
Thank you. I see myself, my life in your words and I feel validated.

Daoloth PTSD Anime Manga Satire OVR
January, 19 2021 at 10:53 am

I've probably had PTSD since I was like 3ish from a sea saw having a hive of wasps that all stung me swarming all over my hands... I've had accumulated, lots of early death like grand parents who died one slowly of cancer the other of a stroke... I had a speech problem so kids would taunt or tease me on the bus saying Teven or other things. I couldn't say sneakers I would say geakers or geekers. Certain sounds like my own name I just couldn't do my best friend michael mccormick was unable to say his name.
I'm dyslexic so when lose ability to articulate or communicate well its tough. I hear anything buzz or that stings I'll still freak out. Things seemed a bit endless I have 5 Teven Sagas of Prisoner of The Horned Helm on my channel I started around May when had a real bad episode. I thought every second or minute somebody watched it would extend their lives I explain it in the about. Its not gone well I've had Youtube shadow banning my comments or ghosting so for months I wondered why nobody liked me or ever replied. Only Creators if anybody could see them. That made it really hard to socialize even on-line. I've had least 3 times Moderators or Wrenches went after me knowing I had PTSD timing out me so I can't talk along with deleting messages. The last time even person running channel was upset saying exactly what I was thinking how I was not even doing or saying anything that constituted that in the least :).
Things got bad around 2015 as the accumulated Trauma/on/off getting jumped assaulted twice having a TMJ issue. I got rear ended so needed to have a C5-C7 operation I was on verge of being paralyzed from neck down but Zhitner all these doctors none would believe me or send for MRI. MOnths were this BS until finally went to a doctor who did then called me at like 11 PM telling me I was a jolt away from ending up a paralegic or so. Whatever term is to be in wheelchair paralyzed from like neck down.
I don't know if anybody will see this but if you have PTSD or Mental Obstacles I hope will consider watching some of my videos. I do some characters even Satire or Virtual Standup sing some folk or Shanty songs. Daoloth PTSD Anime Manga Satire OVR (Organic Vegetarian/Vegan Recipes) for any who wonder.
I'm having a tough time as Dad died years ago in November I found him/saw him as they tried to revive him my dog had just died not long before that. Then during the Funeral stuff Maggie ran away who he was yelling at when I checked on him calling ambulance and cousin then mom at work as well. December I had a dog die within last fear years I was really attached to who had Spleen Cancer. Last year on my birthday in January oldest dog at time Beagle died a few days after sudden like stroke or whatever but he had cancer which I had checked for in November so. Then Misty Haze my current Beagle had an issue where though she would die on what would have been my dads Bday. She seemed to have same issue as Smokey some sorta Seizure maybe there was blood which made me think of Candy when she died she p'd blood.
So I'm already in vivid dreams or flashbacks reliving the events or trauma then all this occurs on top of all that heh. I really like this Female but I don't think I have any hope so I've sent some messages on FB. She had offered to help take care of dogs even coming from another country when was going for surgery but I declined for various reasons. Concussion, Post Concussion stuff, really bad PTSD the other issues I think it would have been hell for her it was more for protection. Also didn't know had lived in NY before as there is a learning curve.
She really is only person I think who could deal with me or have relationship. She seems to ignore me though know what to say or when to say. So eve if ramble its not like that anxiety to face or see how might react. When mentioned might disappear or this long stuff she just said OK. When said a lot of stuff how felt about her or whatever she seemed to be fine with that. So its like confusing as expect to just say your a nice guy but or this or that. Yet there really isn't much reaction or any surprise.
I am in a bad spot trying to get SSD other things. I was actually going to give her all my money years ago ending things. She wanted no part of that got very upset though didn't block me or anything back then which I think most would have. That really helped not send me into a really bad spiral as it would have probably. I really wish I was doing better with Youtube so I felt I was making a difference in the time I have. I know what its like to feel finally got it all together then it falls apart. I look at as phoenix constantly rising from ashes. I had the Prisoner of The Horned Helm concept which I think will help now I'm going to expand into this Miglionico Vampire way to view PTSD. I was explaining things to her where it sorta manifested a bit like An American Werewolf in London.
I had some Neurologist say the PTSD when had the car accident but didn't really see it as real or understand it really. As if anything is like been a part of my life for as long as I can recall. Often if can stay busy or focused on something it helped. Then all stuff locked down can't even see people or do much esp if not already in relationship to meet anyone now is heh.

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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