PTSD Relapse | Epsychiatry
Hi and welcome to this Epsychiatry video, my name is Joseph and I am a psychiatrist working in Australia. Today’s video is on relapse of PTSD. As with other mental health conditions, PTSD symptoms can come in waves, they can fluctuate over time. In this video is going to cover firstly, why symptoms of PTSD might worsen after a relatively good period of time, what symptoms or signs that might indicate your PTSD is worsening and finally what you should do. There are time stamps here if you would like to skip ahead.
So why do PTSD symptoms return or get worse? There can be a number of reasons. Firstly, a new traumatic event or repeat of an old traumatic event. A difficult life event. This could be a death in the family, loss of a close support or financial pressure from losing a job. Sometimes seemingly unrelated stressors can make PTSD worse. Anniversaries of the trauma, having to meeting an attacker or abuser, having to go to court can bring back traumatic memories. Sometimes stopping therapy or medication can make symptoms worse. In other instances if we aren’t consistently applying the skills we know work to keep our PTSD symptoms at bay, they can return. Heavy alcohol or drug misuse can also bring back PTSD symptoms.
What are early signs of a PTSD relapse? Feeling angry, irritable or shouting at those closest to you. Feeling numb and disconnected. Poor sleep and trouble relaxing. Difficulty sleep is a broad sign of worsening mental health and it’s often impacted when PTSD worsens. Wanting to be alone, losing connections with people you anyway don’t see that often. PTSD can impact trust and self esteem, which are both key to maintaining friendships.
If you are experiencing a relapse of your PTSD, it’s probably best to see your doctor or therapist. Firstly try understand why your PTSD has gotten worse and try fix that. Next return to therapy, double down on what has worked in the past by refreshing old skills. Speak with your GP if you need a new referral to see your psychologist. If you are seeing a new therapist, let them know what helped you the first time around.
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0:41 – Why do relapses occur?
1:41 – Early signs of a relapse
2:15 – How to manage a relapse