Recovery is a process, not something that happens all at once. Mental health treatment is the first step toward freedom from the difficulties that mental illness can cause. However, symptoms can often return without ongoing treatment, and conditions can worsen.
Sometimes mental health conditions have no cure, but people can learn to manage their condition. While treatment helps reduce the severity of symptoms, there’s always a possibility they may return. So if you’re wondering, “Can PTSD come back after treatment?” the answer is yes, but hope remains alive and well with proper management and support.
What Is PTSD?
PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, is a mental disorder that develops after experiencing trauma. A traumatic event is a sudden, unexpected event that causes extreme emotional distress. While most people who experience something traumatic return to normal after a few weeks, some continue experiencing fear and anxiety long after the event happened.
Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder include:
- Detachment from friends or family
- Intense, disturbing thoughts, images, and feelings
- Flashbacks or nightmares
- Fear, anger, anxiety, or sadness
- Avoiding events, situations, places, or people
- Extreme reactions to seemingly mild triggers (i.e., loud noises or accidental contact)
Post-traumatic stress disorder ranges from mild to severe. Some people have symptoms that cause minor daily inconveniences. Others have such debilitating symptoms that even the smallest tasks or responsibilities are almost impossible to handle.
What Causes PTSD?
Many people learned of post-traumatic stress disorder because of its impact on soldiers who returned from combat. Referred to as “shell shock” or “combat fatigue” in its earliest days, clinical understanding of PTSD has come a long way since.
Combat veterans are not the only people who develop PTSD. It can also develop after experiencing many different types of trauma, such as physical or sexual abuse, neglect during childhood, assault, violence, serious injury, unexpected loss, or natural disasters.
Can PTSD Come Back After Treatment?
Treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder typically involves a combination of medication and psychotherapy. Successful treatment seeks to equip people with the ability to handle everyday life without debilitating symptoms. Over time, effective treatment relieves their symptoms so they can return to normal. Individuals can again set and achieve goals, maintain their responsibilities, hold down employment, and more.
Eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR) and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) are essential methods when treating PTSD. Additionally, antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications are two of the most commonly used for treatment. They offer relief from symptoms, so the coping skills and tools learned during the therapeutic intervention can be more effective.
However, maintenance often requires ongoing work to maintain these coping skills and avoid the return of symptoms.3 PTSD can come back after treatment if a person doesn’t continue practicing the tools they learned during their program. If PTSD returns, further treatment may be necessary.
Finding Help For PTSD
Thankfully, help is available for anyone struggling with PTSD. Pasadena Villa is a psychiatric treatment network that provides a range of treatment services to people living with mental illness. Whether it’s your first time seeking treatment or you’re looking for additional help, we’re here for you every step of the way.
We offer programs including residential and outpatient treatment to meet the needs of anyone asking for help. To learn more about our services, please reach out to us at 407-565-8942 or fill out our online contact form. We look forward to helping you find the program that’s right for you!
- American Psychiatric Association. (2022). What is Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PSTD)?.
- Frontiers in Psychology. (2018). The Use of Eye-Movement Desensitization Reprocessing Therapy in Treating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – A Systematic Narrative Review.
- National Institute of Mental Health. (2022). Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.