Hello and welcome to this week’s segment of the MHP shares corner! This week we are taking a look at PTSD and offering various tips to deal with this disorder. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a serious anxiety related reaction to an extremely stressful or frightening traumatic experience. Typically, someone affected by PTSD will experience high anxiety or panic feelings after the event, triggered by certain actions, or will have nightmares or flashbacks to the traumatic experience that feels as though they are living through the experience again. These episodes can be terrifying for those involved, but there are ways to treat trauma like this and you can get better. Talking with a professional and attending regular therapist appointments is the first step toward recovery.
As with every treatment that you go through, it is important to educate yourself about the disorder and actively participate in your treatment. Taking an active role in setting your treatment goals will help set a steady pace that you are comfortable with. When you first start your treatment, it is common to notice an increase of symptoms because you are talking through the traumatic experience with your therapist which will bring back some emotions. Don’t let this deter you from continuing to talk with your therapist and ask questions, it will only get easier as you practice the skills you learn in therapy in everyday life.
Staying aware of your symptoms and certain triggers in your environment will help you manage your emotions as you are faced with new experiences. You might feel frightening memories, or emotions randomly pop in your head after experiencing a traumatic event. This usually means that something in the environment is triggering your reaction. These triggers could be anything from smells, sights, sounds or an image. Being aware of what your triggers are will help you prepare to handle them when they arise.
It is helpful to talk through thoughts or emotions that you have during the time after a traumatic event. It is entirely normal for those who have experienced trauma to have distressing thoughts related to their trauma. Your therapist knows how to properly help you deal with these troubling thoughts so share these thoughts with your therapist to help normalize and work through your experience.
Reach out for support from people who care about you and will empathize and listen to you. Make sure you feel comfortable before sharing and talking about your experience with someone that isn’t your therapist. It might feel distressing to talk about it at all, but talking with family or close friends about the experience and what your triggers might be, will allow them to support you when you need it the most.
As with most mental health problems engaging in routine healthy behaviors will help keep your head in the right place. Coping with stress by using positive methods, such as exercise, yoga, meditation, listening to music, eating well balanced meals, and getting enough sleep will help you manage your stress levels in a healthy way. Establishing specific routines around these activities will also help create a sense of normalcy and control. Make sure you give yourself enough time to heal. Be patient with your treatment, it takes time to deal with trauma but it is manageable.
Here are some additional resources for those dealing with PTSD:
- National Institute for Mental Health, Booklet on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- United States Department of Veterans Affairs: National Center for PTSD Fact Sheet: PTSD in Children and Adolescents
- American Psychiatric Association: Lets Talk Facts about Post traumatic Stress Disorder
- Mental Health America: Factsheet: Post traumatic Stress Disorder
- Anxiety Disorders Association of America (ADAA): Brochure on PTSD
- Expert Consensus Treatment Guidelines for Post traumatic Stress Disorder: A Guide for Patients and Families