What to Do After Successful Treatment for PTSD

Steps You Can Take to Stay PTSD-Free

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Some people wonder what they can do after successful treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Just because you have successfully completed treatment for PTSD does not mean that your work is over. PTSD symptoms can come back if you don't continue to engage in the healthy behaviors and coping skills that you learned during treatment. Therefore, it is very important to take steps to make sure that the skills you learned in treatment stay fresh in your mind.

Here are some ways you can accomplish this.

  • Spend some time thinking about your goals, and if you haven't done so already, clarify what your goals are. Imagine yourself taking action to move toward your goals. In addition, identify behaviors that might be inconsistent with achieving your goals. As important as it is to be aware of how you can reach your goals, it is also just as important to be aware of actions that would be inconsistent with your goals (for example, avoidance).
  • Read over any material that you were given during the course of your treatment for PTSD. Even if you feel as though you are very familiar with it all, there is no harm in reviewing it again. This keeps it fresh in your mind, and you may catch something that you missed before. The more familiar you are with the material, the easier it will be to enact certain skills if needed.
  • If you were taught specific coping strategies during your treatment for PTSD, choose one to practice each week, regardless of whether or not you need to use it. Practice it when you are not stressed out, but also at times when you are feeling a little overwhelmed or anxious. The more you practice these skills, the better able you will be in using them during a time of crisis.
  • Identify a source of support. Support is great when you are attempting to address your PTSD symptoms; however, it can also be helpful after you have successfully completed treatment for PTSD. Make sure they are aware of signs that your PTSD symptoms might be coming back. They may be able to help you become aware of "slips" or early warning signs that some PTSD symptoms are coming back. The sooner you address these symptoms, the easier it will be to overcome them.
  • Reducing PTSD symptoms is just one part of the puzzle. It is also important to start building the life that you want to live after PTSD treatment. Identify goals and each week come up with behaviors or steps you can take that are consistent with those goals and building the life you want to live.
  • Buy a self-help book on PTSD and just read through it from time to time. It can introduce you to skills that you never thought of before and can also keep material that you learned in therapy fresh in your mind.
  • You might even consider staying in therapy. Even though your PTSD symptoms have reduced, it doesn't mean that there isn't more that you can gain by meeting with a therapist. A therapist can help you identify goals and ways to meet those goals. A therapist can also be an additional source of support that can help in times of need.

Maintaining recovery from PTSD can take some work. However, although the steps listed above may help keep your PTSD symptoms at bay, they may also help other areas of your life.

The goal is to not just eliminate PTSD symptoms but to also build a meaningful and fulfilling life for yourself.

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