If you’ve been through a threatening, traumatic event, you may develop a condition called post-traumatic stress disorder. Any traumatic event will leave its mark on a person and how it manifests could well depend on their own individual makeup as well as the severity of what occurred. Abuse victims and war veterans can struggle for many years to come to terms with what has happened to them or what they have seen.
As with many mental health conditions, PTSD is not an easy problem to deal with. The good news is that, with the right plan in place and the support available, you have more chance of recovering than ever before. PTSD can affect a wide range of people from those who suffer a traumatic event, those who witness it and even those who have to handle the aftermath including ambulance workers, police and hospital staff.
PTSD responses can involve playing the event over and over again in your mind, avoiding situations that remind you of that event and a level of increased anxiety that can be difficult to cope with. You may actually feel guilty because of the incident, even if you were the victim of abuse. Your anxiety may cause you to become depressed or turn to substances that help you mask the pain like narcotics or alcohol.
Self-Help for PTSD
In less severe cases of PTSD, you can implement a number of self-help measures that have been shown to work. This includes starting an exercise regime that releases endorphins and allows you to focus your thoughts on something like the rhythm of your running. Many veterans benefit from taking up sports such as rock climbing or hiking that get them outdoors. A 30-minute spurt of any kind of exercise every day can help get things started.
Other techniques that can help with the anxiety that usually accompanies PTSD are meditation and mindfulness. These help you to look at yourself non-judgementally and to concentrate on one particular thing such as your breathing or heartbeat. They can also allow you to connect with difficult emotions without going over the top. Meditation is not as difficult as many people think to get the hang of and has been shown to work well in the case of anxiety disorders.
The other important thing to consider is not cutting yourself off from other people. Friends and family will be only too happy to get involved and help you get over your PTSD. The worst thing you can do is push people away and turn in on yourself. Of course, there are other things you should be doing such as eating properly, getting enough sleep and avoiding substances such as alcohol that might work temporarily but can cause bigger problems down the line.
Getting Professional Help for PTSD
Some trauma events are more severe than others and individuals react to them in different ways. If you are unable to help yourself get over PTSD, then don’t worry, you’re not alone. Getting professional help from your doctor or a PTSD service can allow you to get over that initial difficult hurdle of coping with your problem. There’s trauma focused cognitive behaviour therapy that works well with PTSD, giving you the chance to put your anxiety into perspective and change the way you think about it.
There are also support groups for families and PTSD sufferers which can bring everyone together to conquer the problem with better understanding of what the condition is. More often nowadays, doctors and health services look at using therapy to reverse the damaging effects of PTSD but in severe circumstances they may well look to medication as well. This is usually to help with secondary symptoms such as depression or panic attacks and is not a solution in itself.
For those suffering from PTSD the great news is that you don’t have to feel as if you are alone. There is plenty of help out there and people willing to give you a hand as you journey towards a better life, free from the anxiety your traumatic event has left you burdened with.