It’s Likely You May Already Be Familiar With Ptsd You May Know It As The Condition That Affects War Veterans And Survivors Of Car Accidents Natural Disasters And Isolated Acts Of Violence Complex Ptsd However Is Specific To Severe Repetitive Trauma That Typically Happens In Childhood
On the surface, it may seem like PTSD and Complex PTSD are none too dissimilar — they both come as the result of something deeply traumatic, they cause flashbacks, nightmares and insomnia, and they can make people live in fear even when they are safe. But at the very heart of C-PTSD – what causes it, how it manifests internally, the lifelong effects , and its ability to reshape a person’s entire outlook on life – is what makes it considerably different.
Prevalence And Presentation Of Ptsd
In the United States, it is estimated that 8 percent of the population struggles with Posttraumatic-Stress Disordee . Trauma is defined as a disturbing or terrifying event that is experienced firsthand or witnessed.
PTSD is a serious mental condition that should be treated with self-administered coping skills and working with a licensed therapist.
When someone struggles with PTSD it can affect every part of their lives. It can make doing everyday activities extremely challenging or impossible.
Its also common for people who struggle with PTSD will turn to unhealthy ways of coping such as excessive alcohol or drug use. This can lead to developing addictions towards these substances, which will only make PTSD symptoms worse.
Unfortunately, due to stigmas and other shame-based issues, people with PTSD will try to ignore their symptoms of anxiety. This can be a debilitating way to live life because you are constantly haunted by the event that triggered the PTSD, to begin with.
Its important to remember that working through your PTSD or managing it in a better way is possible.
With that said, here are 11 ways to manage your PTSD at home. These are simple interventions that anyone can do, but they are powerful and effective.
Its important to be patient with yourself while you try each one to see which ones work best for you and your symptoms of PTSD.
Where Can I Find Support
Having an under-recognized condition like CPTSD can be isolating. If you feel like you need some extra support, the National Center for PTSD has several resources, including a PTSD coaching app for your phone. While many of these resources are geared toward people with PTSD, you may still find them helpful for many of your symptoms.
The nonprofit organization Out of the Storm also has many online resources, including a forum, information sheets, and book recommendations, specifically for CPTSD.
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Remove Yourself From The Situation
There is nothing wrong with taking a timeout when you need to. This is something that parents do with their children to help them calm down, and it’s just as effective for adults. For example, if a man gets triggered by a PTSD event and cannot understand his wife or her point of view, its best to tell her he needs some time alone to process it. The same can happen if a wife gets triggered by PTSD and needs some separation from her partner.
When you remove yourself from a situation, it can help you to calm down. Then you are more likely to think clearly.
If you feel that your anger is starting to build, excuse yourself and step away from the situation. Then, you can use another strategy or tactic to help dissolve your anger. It is sometimes helpful to discuss a “code word” or phrase with your family ahead of time so that if you are feeling triggered, you can discreetly let them know that you need to leave.
Mindfulness meditation is something that you can practice on your own, use from an app, or learn from an experienced therapist. Its one of the more effective coping skills you can learn if you are experiencing anger in PTSD. The practice of mindfulness meditation helps you to become more aware of your feelings while not indulging in them. It allows you to explore the feelings you are having without judging them. This allows you to calm yourself within the moment.
What Is The Outlook
PTSD is a mental disorder that usually lasts for life. But proper treatment, keeping healthy, and having a strong support system can vastly help in reducing symptoms, allowing you to lead a full and happy life.
Proper self-care is extremely important in managing PTSD. Be sure to follow your treatment plan. It may also help to learn more about PTSD and your hyperarousal symptoms, which can help you to better communicate with your mental healthcare provider and cope with symptoms internally.
Taking good care of your body will also help reduce your symptoms by keeping you physically healthy. This includes
- getting enough sleep
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How To Heal From Complex Trauma
Everyones story is unique and so is their trauma. What works for one person may not work for another.
Also, keep in mind that what works at one point in time may not work later on down the line.
The great news is, as more is uncovered about complex trauma, more trauma treatment therapies are emerging as well. The goal of each treatment option is to provide a corrective emotional experience for healing.
Here are some effective therapies for complex trauma:
Theres also a link between complex trauma and substance use as a way to cope with symptoms. If youd like to cut back on using drugs or drinking alcohol, support is available.
Look for a local 12-step program, like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous , or SMART Recovery.
Here are some additional resources for support:
What Does Complex Post
There are several and various psychological aspects to CPTSD and we have tried to list as many as we could below with associated explanations.
Problems with Emotional Regulation. Survivors find they have a very difficult time experiencing, expressing, and controlling emotions. Not only are survivors unable to describe, comprehend and label them correctly, feeling emotions is terrifying and might express in a volatile manner.
Survivors may experience persistent sadness, suicidality, or either explosive anger or be incapable of expressing it. Survivors often feel numb and are incapable of leveling out their moods after they have experienced an extreme emotion such as elation or grief.
One common symptom any survivors encounter is the re-experiencing of their childhood trauma through flashbacks. These flashbacks are intrusive and often the triggers causing them are elusive. This symptom is known as an emotional flashback.
Difficulty with Relationships. One might think that when we talk about having difficulty with relationships, we are only speaking about having trouble forming and holding an intimate relationship but thats not all there is to it.
Survivors often have feelings of isolation and havent the knowledge of HOW to form relationships. The fear involved in trusting another human being will not harm them leaves these survivors in a morass of harboring the intense needs to hide away and refuse to try to trust others with also desperately wanting someone to love them.
Eye Movement Desensitization And Reprocessing
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing is a technique that may help people with PTSD or complex PTSD.
After preparation and practice, the therapist will ask the person to recall the traumatic memory. The therapist will move a finger from side to side, and the person will follow the movement with their eyes.
When effective, this process helps to desensitize the person to the trauma so that they can eventually recall the memory without having a strong adverse reaction to it.
EMDR is controversial because the exact mechanism by which it works is unclear.
However, several guidelines, including those of the American Psychological Association, recommend EMDR as a treatment for PTSD under certain conditions.
They caution that confirming the effectiveness of EMDR for trauma will require more research.
Injured Not Broken: Why Its So Hard To Know You Have Cptsd
When a child experiences neglect, anxiety, or danger repeatedly in a close relationship, that child often grows up with a sense that they are not okay. Psychology has a name for the longterm, consistent type of trauma that leaves a person feeling insecure, overwhelmed, and unsafe in the world: complex post-traumatic stress disorder, or CPTSD.
In our practice as trauma-informed therapists, we recognize that many of those seeking our care have a history of trauma throughout their childhood. It is likely they have complex trauma that has resulted in CPTSD. Its hard for trauma survivors themselves to recognize this.
Because living in a triggered state of alarm is so familiar, many dont realize trauma is the source of their feeling not okay. Thats why I want to address CPTSD here and to encourage those who feel overwhelmed or hopeless to realize they are not broken. They are injured, and these injuries are treatable.
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History Of Complex Ptsd Diagnosis
In 1988, Dr. Judith Herman of Harvard University suggested that a new diagnosis, complex PTSD, was needed to describe the symptoms of long-term trauma . Such symptoms include, according to her formulation:
- Behavioral difficulties
- Emotional difficulties
- Cognitive difficulties
- Interpersonal difficulties
In This Article
The World Health Organization, in its 11th revision of the International Disease Classification , has taken a very different approach. The PTSD diagnosis in ICD-11 consists of only the following symptoms: re-experiencing the traumatic event avoidance of thoughts, memories, activities, etc. that serve as reminders of the event and, persistent perceptions of heightened current threat. Individuals are considered to have complex PTSD if they meet these symptoms and in addition endorse 1) affect dysregulation, 2) negative self-concept, and 3) disturbed relationships . On the other hand, in the DSM-5, these symptoms fall within PTSD criteria so would not warrant an additional diagnosis other than PTSD.
What Is Complex Ptsd
Most people know the term PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder that can be caused by a traumatic event, such as a natural disaster, car accident, near-death experience, or other isolated acts of abuse or violence.
But complex PTSD is a fairly new term. It was introduced in 1992 by Judith Herman, MD in her book where she summarized her clinical research with victims of domestic and sexualized violence, including child sexual abuse.
This condition isnt currently recognized as a separate diagnosis in The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition . But the 11th edition of the World Health Organizations International Classification of Diseases identifies complex PTSD as a separate condition, and some mental health professionals are diagnosing it.
The ICD-11 describes complex PTSD as an enhanced version of PTSD with the same clinical aspects and 3 additional sets of symptoms emotional dysregulation, negative self-concept, and disturbances relationships.
Complex PTSD is believed to be caused by extreme abuse, neglect, violence, or other traumatic events that occur over an extended period of time for months or even years. Unlike PTSD, which can develop at any age, c-PTSD is more often the result of a childhood trauma.
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Risk Factors For Complex Ptsd
The risk factors for complex PTSD can dictate if someone has PTSD, complex PTSD, or no diagnosable condition at all.
Some of the most impactful risk factors of PTSD include:
- The frequency, the severity, and the duration of the trauma
- Poor treatment received by authorities, professionals, and caregivers before, during, and after the trauma
- Limited access to mental and medical health care
- Use of negative coping skills
- No access to a supportive network of people
- A culture built around blaming the victims
- Continued exposure to trauma reminders
Explore Online Therapy Options
Another type of therapy option is online therapy. Online therapy allows you the freedom to attend therapy sessions from the comfort of your home, which may be less intimidating and more accessible than other types of therapy. It also gives you the freedom to get treated in a number of different ways, including your phone, computer, or an app.
The National Center for PTSD provides a number of resources, including:
- video tutorials that can educate you in greater depth about symptoms and treatments
- PTSD Treatment Decision Aid to help you decide which options suit your needs best
- online programs to help you deal with stress, anger, parenting challenges, and sleep issues
How to find a therapist thats right for you
To find a therapist who can help you with PTSD, consider the following strategies:
And finally, give yourself permission to change therapists.
The first therapist you visit might not turn out to be a good fit. Its OK to consider your initial visits as a kind of interview process to find the therapist thats right for you.
Cost and insurance
Most insurance plans offer some coverage for mental health services, although deductible amounts and copays will vary from policy to policy.
Original Medicare, Medicare Advantage plans, and Medicaid also provide mental health benefits.
If you do not have health insurance and youre looking for affordable PTSD treatment, try looking for a therapist who has a sliding-scale fee structure.
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Healthy Ways Of Coping With Ptsd Anxiety
Carly Snyder, MD is a reproductive and perinatal psychiatrist who combines traditional psychiatry with integrative medicine-based treatments.
People with post-traumatic stress disorder often struggle with frequent and intense symptoms of anxiety. These strong symptoms of anxiety often lead people with PTSD to rely on unhealthy ways of coping, such as through drug or alcohol use.
Fortunately, there are a number of healthy ways of coping with anxiety. These strategies may help reduce the intensity of anxiety, lessen its frequency, and/or make it more tolerable.
Managing Trauma With Betterhelp
There is a large body of research showing that online therapy can be a valuable component of a treatment plan when addressing symptoms of trauma. For example, in a study published by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, researchers found that online cognitive-behavioral therapy was an effective means of decreasing symptoms of PTSD. The study makes note of the small percentage of individuals living with PTSD who seek treatment, compared to those who do not or cannot due to various obstaclesincluding costs, lack of access, and stigma. Online interventions can eliminate these barriers. Online cognitive-behavioral therapy works by helping individuals to reframe negative thought patterns that may be underlying unwanted emotions and behaviors, such as depression or anxiety arising out of trauma, so that individuals can understand triggering situations and how to manage them.
I really enjoy working with Daniel. His expertise and knowledge in his field are extensive yet relatable. He provides effective strategies in working through PTSD issues with a kind and direct technique. I highly recommend him!
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Getting Professional Help For Ptsd
If you suspect that you or a loved one has post-traumatic stress disorder, its important to seek help right away. The sooner PTSD is treated, the easier it is to overcome. If youre reluctant to seek help, keep in mind that PTSD is not a sign of weakness, and the only way to overcome it is to confront what happened to you and learn to accept it as a part of your past. This process is much easier with the guidance and support of an experienced therapist or doctor.
Its only natural to want to avoid painful memories and feelings. But if you try to numb yourself and push your memories away, PTSD will only get worse. You cant escape your emotions completelythey emerge under stress or whenever you let down your guardand trying to do so is exhausting. The avoidance will ultimately harm your relationships, your ability to function, and the quality of your life.
Why you should seek help for PTSD
Early treatment is better. Symptoms of PTSD may get worse. Dealing with them now might help stop them from getting worse in the future. Finding out more about what treatments work, where to look for help, and what kind of questions to ask can make it easier to get help and lead to better outcomes.
PTSD symptoms can change family life. PTSD symptoms can get in the way of your family life. You may find that you pull away from loved ones, are not able to get along with people, or that you are angry or even violent. Getting help for your PTSD can help improve your family life.
Emotional Support And Service Animals
Animals have a unique way of bringing unconditional love and comfort. Just being in their presence can ease anxiety and stress.
For someone struggling with PTSD symptoms, they may be able to get a trained service dog to help support them. Service dogs are trained to recognize when symptoms are acting up and can gently try to redirect their owner.
Pets, in general, have a calming presence that can be extremely comforting for someone dealing with PTSD.
One thing to be aware of is that there are service animals and emotional support animals. Service animals require special training. Emotional support animals, on the other hand, are not necessarily trained or certified in any way.
In fact, if you already have a pet, you already have an emotional support animal!
If youre considering getting one, a letter from your doctor or therapist helps. You wont have to pay additional fees or be subject to breed restrictions if you rent your home.
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