The Stages of PTSD Recovery

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a condition that often develops after a devastating event of some kind. It is commonly associated with veterans who have served in active duty and those who have lived through natural disasters or massive violent events; however, it can also develop after the death of a loved one or even after a traumatic hospital stay or vehicle accident.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder recovery can be a completely unique experience for every person. This is primarily because the experiences that led to your PTSD were unique to you, and your reactions to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder are also unique to you. There are, however, several common PTSD stages that can help you to better understand how you react and how you can recover.
 

5 Stages of PTSD

The following are common stages of PTSD that most people work through in their journey of dealing with the disorder and learning to live through it:1

Stage 1: The Emergency Stage
The first of the post-traumatic stress stages is referred to as either the “outcry” stage or the “emergency” stage. During this stage, your responses to everything around you will be intense, and your anxiety levels will be extremely high.This is often the stage where you will feel the instinctual “fight or flight” response kicking into gear.
Stage 2: The Numbing Stage
The second of the PTSD stages is referred to as the “denial” or the “numbing” stage. When it comes to PTSD, denial is a fairly large concern that will need to be addressed during treatment. In this phase, you will instinctively do your bestto protect yourself from further mental anguish by denying the emotions that you are truly struggling with.
 
Avoiding difficult emotions is very often your mind’s way of trying to reduce and eliminate the high levels of stress and anxiety that you are feeling. Without the proper PTSD recovery program and compassionate professional treatment, many find that they are not able to move beyond the numbing stage.
Stage 3: The Intrusive/Repetitive Stage
The third of the PTSD stages is referred to as the “intrusive repetitive” phase. You may find that despite your best efforts to deny how you are feeling, you are now experiencing nightmares and flashbacks and are increasingly anxious and jumpy. This can often be the most destructive of all of the post-traumatic stress stages, but it is also the stage at which you may finally be willing to wholly confront PTSD trauma that is controlling your life and the lives of those who care about you.
Stage 4: The Transition Stage
In the fourth stage, you begin to enter into recovery from PTSD. It is called the “transition” stage because you begin to move into a new level of acceptance and understanding of what happened and how it has been affecting your life.This is the stage where healing finally starts to occur. You will be able to have a much more positive outlook on your life and a much clearer idea as to how you can overcome PTSD.
Stage 5: The Integration Stage
The fifth stage, known as the “integration” stage, occurs when you begin to successfully work through your PTSD recovery program. As you learn coping mechanisms to address and overcome your PTSD symptoms, you can begin to integrate these new skills into your daily life and move forward. Getting to this stage may take some time, and you may find that you regress a little bit when you are struggling with stressful situation. It is important to remember to always lean on the coping skills that you learned while undergoing treatment at a PTSD recovery center.

 

Moving Through the Stages of PTSD Recovery

US soldier in VietnamThe journey of moving through the stages of PTSD recovery will be unique to each person; however, it is most important that you continue to progress in recovery. It may take loved ones pointing out where you are in your journey for you to realize that you need help, too.

Many people find help moving through the stages of PTSD through medication therapy, talk therapy or often a combination of the two.

Antidepressants are commonly prescribed to treat PTSD symptoms, but doctors may also use sleep aids as well as other classes of medication to help relieve unwanted symptoms. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is the most common form of talk therapy — or psychotherapy — used to treat PTSD although others are used as well. CBT modalities may include exposure therapy and cognitive restructuring to retrain your brain in how to process unnerving thoughts and situations.2
 

Getting Valuable PTSD Recovery Help

We recognize that it can be difficult to ask for help, especially if you are experiencing the fear and anxiety associated with PTSD. When you call our toll-free helpline, (877) 345-1887, you will find that our admissions coordinators are considerate to the sensitivity of the issues you are struggling with. Call our toll-free helpline no matter the time of day and allow us to help you find the treatment and resources you need to overcome PTSD and move forward with your life.


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Sources

1 "Phases of Traumatic Stress Reactions Following Disaster and Mass Violence." US Department of Veterans Affairs, January 9, 2018.

2 "Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder." National Institute of Mental Health, February 2016.