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How to Deal with a Recurrence of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

written by: Daniel P. McGoldrick • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 9/30/2010

A recurrence of post traumatic stress disorder can be extremely frustrating and life-interrupting to say the least. Someone experiencing this relapse into old ways of thinking and exhibiting behavior characteristics of PTSD needs to be proactive about reaching out for help.

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    Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Reccurance

    A recurrence of post traumatic stress disorder symptoms in an individual once diagnosed with it can be aggravating and mentally disabling. If a person avoids seeking help and treatment from trained mental health professionals, that individual runs the risk of it becoming a chronic condition.

    There is a saying in the community of combat veterans who have experience with PTSD that “if you don’t work on it, it works on you.” When not properly treated, PTSD will start to take a toll on the individual who has it along with their family and friends. For a poignant first person discussion on the nature of this disorder, read What it Feels Like to Have PTSD. If you come across opinions, even if they come from the medical community that say once it’s treated there will be no recurrences, be wary. The human brain is not fully understood and many folks can hardly fathom the workings of their own minds. The likelihood of a recurrence is hard to determine because so many variables are at play, but anyone who has had it should always be on the lookout.

    Symptoms can creep back up on a person whether they notice it or not. Someone who received the proper treatment and therapy in Bagdad '03 the past can become frustrated and depressed if the condition seems to reassert itself years later. The human mind and psyche is permanently altered from the event or combat environment which originally caused it. It is difficult for anyone who has ever witnessed an IED (improvised explosive device) blow up to drive by garbage on the side of the road without thinking it might be more than just garbage.

    Unfortunately, once you think you’re done with PTSD, you might come to find out that it isn’t done with you. The symptoms which might reveal a recurrence may include hypervigilance, avoiding thoughts of the event or places which caused associations to it, and reliving the event. The Most Common Signs of PTSD will take you on a more in-depth look into the characteristics and ramifications of those signs if you’re unfamiliar with them. Be aware that untreated PTSD can also lead to substance abuse problems; bring about panic attacks, and cause severe and life-threatening suicidal ideation. PTSD is a serious mental disorder that requires serious attention and a proactive approach toward therapy.

    Any number of external factors might trigger a recurrence of PTSD. The brain is largely an association making machine and sometimes associations, no matter how far removed they might seem, might lead one back to the event or circumstances which caused PTSD.

    Regardless of what causes the beast to rear its ugly head again, the best course of action is to seek professional help from the mental health community. If you had a counselor, therapist, or psychotherapist that helped you out originally and you feel comfortable with them, make an appointment to see them again and tell them what is happening. If not, plan on seeing a new one. As far as the specific treatment plans available, they’re discussed in detail in Successful Treatments for PTSD. Other than that, support groups are always a good idea because you can learn how others manage and cope with it. Get the help you need when you need it, there is a way out. The link I provide below to Medicinenet.com has a long list of sources, sites, and phone numbers where you can get help.

    Image Credit: Dan McGoldrick