Everyone Thinks They Understand Ptsd But What Is It Really
Posted August 1, 2014
You cant turn on the television or read a newspaper or blog without hearing about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder .Yet most people have no idea of what it is, or that you can truly recover from it. Some writers say you never, ever heal and that there is always a hurt and reminder from severe trauma. However, there are many people, myself included, who believe that when getting the proper treatment, you can heal and recover from PTSD.
If you have PTSD, you know that even the slightest sound or movement can trigger a wider array of symptoms from slight dissociation of current time and place , to total dissociation, where you are reliving the traumatic event again, such as the death of a spouse.
Tip : Support Ptsd Treatment With A Healthy Lifestyle
The symptoms of PTSD can be hard on your body so its important to take care of yourself and develop some healthy lifestyle habits.
Take time to relax. Relaxation techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, massage, or yoga can activate the bodys relaxation response and ease symptoms of PTSD.
Avoid alcohol and drugs. When youre struggling with difficult emotions and traumatic memories, you may be tempted to self-medicate with alcohol or drugs. But substance use worsens many symptoms of PTSD, interferes with treatment, and can add to problems in your relationships.
Eata healthy diet. Start your day right with breakfast, and keep your energy up and your mind clear with balanced, nutritious meals throughout the day. Omega-3s play a vital role in emotional health so incorporate foods such as fatty fish, flaxseed, and walnuts into your diet. Limit processed food, fried food, refined starches, and sugars, which can exacerbate mood swings and cause fluctuations in your energy.
Get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation can trigger anger, irritability, and moodiness. Aim for somewhere between 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Develop a relaxing bedtime ritual and make your bedroom as quiet, dark, and soothing as possible.
Learn As Much As You Can About Stress Acute Stress And The More Difficult Forms Of Ptsd And Chronic Stress Learn To Manage Your Primary Symptoms
Knowledge is power. When you know you are not crazy or losing your mind but that the things you are experiencing are common responses to what you have been through, then it is easier to look for the things others have found useful in recovering from their chronic stress.
Accept what you feel. Try to learn to feel what you are feeling rather than run from the uncomfortable feelings. The feelings will come and go. Learn that you dont have to run from feelings, but you do need to move away from real danger.
Seek Therapy To Support Recovering From C
The field of trauma treatment has come far since 1988. Thats the year Judith Herman Herman Ph.D of Harvard coined the term complex PTSD. We have learned a lot about how trauma impact the brain, the nervous system. And weve learned how to help people along the path of recovering from Complex PTSD.
As you can see, these three key stages of healing CPTSD require the assistance of a trained complex ptsd therapist who understands trauma and its after-effects. Your therapist does more than just analyze what happened to you. They also walk with you through the recovery journey, allowing you the space to become safe and whole once again. A therapist empowers you to look back on those terrible moments, with less fear and shame and a greater sense of purpose and forward movement.
Perhaps you endured complex PTSD symptoms for years. Recovering from Complex PTSD takes time but you neednt suffer aimlessly or alone. The intention of C-PTSD recovery is not to draw out the process. Rather, it is to intentionally engage in the stages of healing so that you can take back your life. Please read more about trauma therapy and contact me today to discuss how I can help.
Where To Get Professional Help For Flashbacks
Self-care techniques for flashbacks can be useful but might not be enough. You may need to get professional help. Speak with your healthcare provider about your flashbacks. They can refer you to the appropriate specialist such as a psychiatrist or psychotherapist to help you get the best treatment.
Another option is to contact SAMHSAs National Helpline. The helpline can provide referrals to support groups, local treatment centers, and community organizations. If youre a member of the military or a veteran experiencing PTSD flashbacks, you can also contact the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for assistance.
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Mental Reactions To Trauma
Mental reactions to trauma include:
- reduced concentration and memory
Common behavioural reactions to trauma include:
- avoiding reminders of the event
- inability to stop focusing on what occurred
- getting immersed in recovery-related tasks
- losing touch with normal daily routines
- changed appetite, such as eating a lot more or a lot less
- turning to substances such as alcohol, cigarettes and coffee
- sleeping problems.
Practice Remembrance And Mourning
Skipping this stage of trauma therapy is something important that interferes with recovering from Complex PTSD. Many trauma survivors never recover because they dont do this stage of the work. This stage involves the resolution, or reconsolidation of old memories. Without this work, the brain cant move forward. Many survivors only have one coping tool avoidance. And its this very avoidance that keeps the trauma symptoms from resolving. Avoidance can be an excellent short term coping mechanism, but over the long run, its what keeps the pain, fear, anger and shame swirling within our bodies and minds.
Many wrongly believe that the only way to move forward is by not thinking about or not feeling what happened. What these people dont know is that a good trauma therapist can gently guide them through this stage and make sure that the process of remembering is not overwhelming. In fact, the key to successful trauma therapy is reprocessing and reconsolidating old memories in a comfortable enough way.
The step of remembering and mourning the trauma is essential for recovering from complex PTSD. In this second step of the Complex PTSD recovery stages, you are actively engaged in trauma recovery work. This is the heart of whats considered trauma therapy in that you are meeting with a therapist and working through what happened. There are several options available to do this safely and productively. For example:
When To Get Medical Advice
It’s normal to experience upsetting and confusing thoughts after a traumatic event, but most people improve naturally over a few weeks.
You should see a GP if you or your child are still having problems about 4 weeks after the traumatic experience, or if the symptoms are particularly troublesome.
If necessary, your GP can refer you to mental health specialists for further assessment and treatment.
How Is Ptsd Treated
PTSD is treated in different ways depending on the severity, the cause, and the individual. PTSD treatment can come through medication and/or therapy but the kind and course of these treatments can vary.
Medication may be a regularly taken prescription prescribed for a short time or indefinitely. These medications are usually the same as or similar to those used to treat anxiety and depression. Depending on the nature and severity of the condition and the preferences of the patient, they may get a prescription for “rescue medication” that can be taken in response to symptoms like panic attacks instead of being taken regularly. There are medications that should not be taken by people with PTSD, nor should they take medications in combination with other medications. They should let all of their care providers know about all of their medications – as well as herbal supplements – and diagnosed conditions to prevent dangerous combinations of prescriptions.
Finally, many people undergo both talk therapy and medication. Prescription medication taken regularly for PTSD make counseling more effective so many people with PTSD are in therapy for years, months, or even weeks before ending treatment or moving to a more relaxed treatment environment and schedule as discussed above.
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Signs And Symptoms Of Ptsd
PTSD develops differently from person to person because everyones nervous system and tolerance for stress is a little different. While youre most likely to develop symptoms of PTSD in the hours or days following a traumatic event, it can sometimes take weeks, months, or even years before they appear. Sometimes symptoms appear seemingly out of the blue. At other times, they are triggered by something that reminds you of the original traumatic event, such as a noise, an image, certain words, or a smell.
While everyone experiences PTSD differently, there are four main types of symptoms.
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Do You Have Any Of These Ptsd Symptoms
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep
- Diminished interest in activities
- Irritability or outbursts of anger
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sense of foreshortened future
- Persistent symptoms of increased arousal
- Physiological arousal
- Breathing difficulty
- Stomach and bowel disturbances
With PTSD, you may wonder what has caused your body to react this way. The reason is that in the middle of you there is a sensor called the amygdala. It detects if there is danger to your life. Once this sensor gets activated, it sends a signal down to your adrenal glands that are on the top of your kidneys. When the adrenal glands get the message the glands send out a chemical called adrenaline that then activates your fight/flight response in your Limbic system, which controls your Autonomic Nervous System. This is the system that controls your heart rate, breathing, bowels, your bladder, pupils open and closing, gastric juice, and saliva in your mouth. When your Limbic system is activated you feel a sense of dread. All you know is that your life feels in danger and you want to fight or flee. During this experience, often your ability to rationally think things through has been hijacked. All you know is that you feel an intense sense of activation, be it rage, anger, or just to escape from the situation.
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What Are The Treatments For Post
The main treatments for PTSD are talk therapy, medicines, or both. PTSD affects people differently, so a treatment that works for one person may not work for another. If you have PTSD, you need to work with a mental health professional to find the best treatment for your symptoms.:
- Talk therapy, or psychotherapy, which can teach you about your symptoms. You will learn how to identify what triggers them and how to manage them. There are different types of talk therapy for PTSD.
- Medicines can help with the symptoms of PTSD. Antidepressants may help control symptoms such as sadness, worry, anger, and feeling numb inside. Other medicines can help with sleep problems and nightmares.
Ptsd Causes And Risk Factors
Everyone reacts to traumatic events differently. Each person is unique in their ability to manage fear, stress and the threat posed by a traumatic event or situation. For that reason, not everyone who has a trauma will develop PTSD. Also, the type of help and support a person receives from friends, family members, and professionals following the trauma may impact the development of PTSD or the severity of symptoms.
PTSD was first brought to the attention of the medical community by war veterans hence the names shell shock and battle fatigue syndrome. However, anyone who has had a traumatic event can develop PTSD. People who were abused as children or who have been repeatedly exposed to life-threatening situations are at risk for developing PTSD. Victims of trauma related to physical and sexual assault face the greatest risk for PTSD.
You may be more likely to develop PTSD after a traumatic event if you have a history of other mental health problems, have blood relatives with mental health problems, or have a history of alcohol or drug abuse.
How common is PTSD?
About 3.6% of adult Americans — about 5.2 million people — have PTSD during the course of a year, and an estimated 7.8 million Americans will develop PTSD at some point in their lives. PTSD can develop at any age, including childhood. Women are more likely to develop PTSD than men. This may be due to the fact that women are more likely to be victims of domestic violence, abuse, and rape.
Rape Or Sexual Trauma
The trauma of being raped or sexually assaulted can be shattering, leaving you feeling scared, ashamed, and alone, or plagued by nightmares, flashbacks, and other unpleasant memories. But no matter how bad you feel right now, its important to remember that you werent to blame for what happened, and you can regain your sense of safety, trust, and self-worth.
Emotional And Psychological Trauma
If youve experienced an extremely stressful eventor series of eventsthats left you feeling helpless and emotionally out of control, you may have been traumatized. Psychological trauma often has its roots in childhood, but any event that shatters your sense of safety can leave you feeling traumatized, whether its an accident, injury, the sudden death of a loved one, bullying, domestic abuse, or a deeply humiliating experience. Whether the trauma happened years ago or yesterday, you can get over the pain, feel safe again, and move on with your life.
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What Is Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
Posttraumatic stress disorder is a psychiatric disorder that may occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, or rape or who have been threatened with death, sexual violence or serious injury.
PTSD has been known by many names in the past, such as shell shock during the years of World War I and combat fatigue after World War II, but PTSD does not just happen to combat veterans. PTSD can occur in all people, of any ethnicity, nationality or culture, and at any age. PTSD affects approximately 3.5 percent of U.S. adults every year, and an estimated one in 11 people will be diagnosed with PTSD in their lifetime. Women are twice as likely as men to have PTSD. Three ethnic groups U.S. Latinos, African Americans, and American Indians are disproportionately affected and have higher rates of PTSD than non-Latino whites.
People with PTSD have intense, disturbing thoughts and feelings related to their experience that last long after the traumatic event has ended. They may relive the event through flashbacks or nightmares they may feel sadness, fear or anger and they may feel detached or estranged from other people. People with PTSD may avoid situations or people that remind them of the traumatic event, and they may have strong negative reactions to something as ordinary as a loud noise or an accidental touch.
Think Of It As A Slipup Vs A Failure
During recovery, its common to set hard and fast rules for yourself, such as I will never have another drink again. This may be a great goal if you tend to use alcohol to deal with PTSDs symptoms. However, it may not always be realistic, especially if you are in the early stages of recovery.
When you set black-and-white rules for yourself, youre more likely to beat yourself up about a slip. This is probably only going to motivate the very behavior you are trying to stop. As a result, you may lose control over that behavior and fall farther and farther off track.
One way to make it easier to stop an unhealthy behavior during PTSD recovery is by viewing that action as only a slipup or a temporary misstep. Dont think of it as an indication of failure or a sign that there is no hope.
Changing unhealthy behaviors is not an easy thing to do, especially if you are also experiencing other symptoms of PTSD. Because of this, treat yourself with understanding and self-compassion if you slip.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Ptsd In A Child
Children and teens with PTSD feel a lot of emotional and physical distress when exposed to situations that remind them of the traumatic event. Some may relive the trauma over and over again. They may have nightmares and disturbing memories during the day. They may also:
Have problems sleeping
Feel depressed or grouchy
Feel nervous, jittery, or alert and watchful
Lose interest in things they used to enjoy. They may seem detached or numb and are not responsive.
Have trouble feeling affectionate
Be more aggressive than before, even violent
Stay away from certain places or situations that bring back memories
Have flashbacks. These can be images, sounds, smells, or feelings. The child may believe the event is happening again.
Lose touch with reality
Reenact an event for seconds or hours or, in rare cases, days
Have problems in school
Worry about dying at a young age
Act younger than their age, such as thumb-sucking or bedwetting
Have physical symptoms, such as headaches or stomachaches