What are the 5 stages of PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder, also known as PTSD, is a type of anxiety disorder. It occurs in people who have undergone a traumatic event or several events. It can be present in people who have gone through an accident, assault, natural disaster, military trauma and more.

It’s estimated that about 6% of people in the United States will experience PTSD during their lives. The symptoms that most often characterize PTSD include anxiety, depression, nightmares, flashbacks, intense emotional and physical reactions, mood changes, and avoidance. Generally, the way a person experiences PTSD can be split up into five stages.

What are the five stages of PTSD?

There are five unique stages associated with PTSD. Learn more about each stage and how they have the potential to affect someone who is experiencing this disorder. 

  • Emergency stage — The first of the five stages of PTSD is called the emergency stage. When someone is experiencing the emergency stage, their anxiety and terror reaches an all-time high. They might become reactive or especially jumpy. This stage usually triggers a person’s nervous system to kick into overdrive. This stage occurs directly following the traumatic event.

  • Numbing stage — The second stage is called the numbing stage. During the numbing stage, a person might experience a lack of emotions or feelings. This is typically the mind’s way of shielding itself from having to deal with significant trauma.

  • Intrusive repetitive stage — The third stage of the five PTSD stages is called the intrusive repetitive stage. This usually causes the person to experience intrusive nightmares, flashbacks and anxiety. During this stage, the mind may attempt to process the traumatic events it went through, but this may result in intrusive, repetitive episodes that cause distress.

  • Transition stage — During the transition stage, the fourth out of the five stages of PTSD, a person can begin to process what they experienced. This stage is usually begun with the guidance of a licensed mental health professional and marks the beginning of recovery.

  • Integration stage — The last phase of the five PTSD stages is called the integration stage. It involves implementing a series of skills learned during professional counseling sessions that can help an individual manage their PTSD symptoms. This is the phase where a person can actively work toward recovery from their post-traumatic stress disorder.

How can the symptoms of PTSD be managed?

People with post-traumatic stress disorder often struggle to keep their symptoms under control and may become quickly overwhelmed. Fortunately, the symptoms of this anxiety disorder can be treated. With the help of a licensed mental health professional, recovery is possible. They can help guide you through each of the stages and ultimately bring you closer to recovering from your post-traumatic stress disorder. That way, you can live your life without needing to feel powerless about your symptoms. Without treatment, your symptoms may not get better over time and could prove detrimental to your quality of life.

Lightfully wants to help you work through the 5 stages of PTSD

Our mission at Lightfully is to work with individuals to change their life compassionately. We strive to provide high-quality mental health care to various types of clients through a focused approach to process-based therapy. The framework of our clinic consists of evidence-based, clearly defined, data-driven and whole-person-centered care

Lightfully offers various layers of service to adults: Residential Treatment, Virtual Intensive Outpatient Program (vIOP), Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), and Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP), also referred to as our Day Treatment Program. We regularly see clients who actively manage mood, anxiety, personality and trauma disorders. If you or someone you care about is dealing with PTSD, we’d like to help. Our therapists are experienced in dealing with a variety of conditions and unique circumstances, including post-traumatic stress disorder. You deserve help working through the five stages of PTSD. We’d like to help you or your loved one work toward a healthier future.

Our licensed, clinical experts see each client as a complex and layered human — not just a diagnosis. We value our clients as they are and hope to enrich their lives through treatment. Our vision for the future is an authentic and loving community where everyone can be seen, heard, and valued as they are. We believe in the light within each individual, and when that light is properly nurtured it can allow a person to shine brighter than ever before.

Change is possible. When you’re ready to take the first step, reach out to our Admissions Concierge Team. We’ll take the next steps together, toward the fullest, brightest version of you.

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