By Teyhou Smyth (LivingwithFinesse.com)
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can hijack the mind and body like no other condition. Those who struggle with PTSD due to military service experience the impact of this trauma and deal with the consequences on a daily basis.
Symptoms like hypervigilance, racing heart, flashbacks, mood changes and intrusive thoughts impact daily living. It might seem as though these symptoms are taking over your life. Often people with PTSD resort to limiting their activity levels in an attempt to reduce exposure to triggers.
It may seem reasonable to try to protect oneself from the impact of this difficult disorder. Unfortunately, avoidance only serves to perpetuate the condition. Isolation and loneliness worsen depressive symptoms and reinforces anxiety about external and internal triggers.
Veterans with PTSD
frequently have challenges with anger, substance abuse, family problems and emotional numbing. PTSD is a serious condition and there are treatment options to help manage the symptoms.
Don’t Face PTSD Alone
Trauma and PTSD can make even the most naturally outgoing person want to retreat and isolate. Sometimes those with PTSD are even reluctant to share their pain with their closest loved ones. People struggling with PTSD need support and healing. Here are some treatment options that can help:
Starting individual counseling may feel intimidating but it can be a good step toward healing. Find a therapist who has experience in trauma treatment and make sure they are a good fit for you.
Don’t forget, you are interviewing the therapist when you meet; it is important that you are comfortable with this person. There are many therapists out there, don’t hesitate to move on if it’s not a good match.
Sometimes the best people to talk to are those who are experiencing the same challenges. PTSD support groups are a great place to get support, talk about trauma responses and discuss the way this condition can impact daily life.
Wounded Warrior Project offers a variety of support options for veterans who are struggling.
During difficult moments, it is vital to have support and empathy. PTSD hotlines can be a helpful connection during trying times.
Support hotlines are confidential and can help reduce the impact of PTSD during times of crisis. Veterans who are struggling can also call the Veteran’s Crisis Line to access support. Calling 911 and going to the emergency room are also positive steps to take if you are feeling overwhelmed.
For those who struggle with the idea of group therapy or attending individual counseling, there are many different types of options available online. There are many free sites for group support online, and these venues can feel more comfortable for some people than face to face group work.
Many insurance companies are offering coverage for online counseling, which means that you can participate via the internet and webcam. These options enable treatment for those who might otherwise not be able to access it. Make the Connection is a good resource for veterans who need assistance locating services in a specific area or for a specific challenge.
How to Cope with PTSD Symptoms
Day to day life with PTSD can be riddled with stress and triggers. It can be helpful to build a set of healthy coping strategies to manage symptoms as they arise.
Learn your symptoms and triggers:
Learning the symptoms and triggers is a good first step in coping with PTSD. Try to narrow your triggers down and identify the specific elements of what causes your hypervigilance, fight or flight and severe anxiety to spike.
Keep track of your flare ups:
Writing your experiences in a journal, including precipitating events, thoughts and feelings can be a helpful way to identify patterns; are there specific times of year that your symptoms flare up? Do symptoms worsen in certain locations or with particular people or events?
Practice deep breathing, meditation and other relaxation strategies:
A significant part of managing PTSD is in understanding the bodily mechanisms that are affected by the trauma. Harnessing control of one’s breath, learning to be mindful and taking control of one’s current physical experience through grounding can help reduce the impact of traumatic memories.
Communicate with others:
Even if you are reluctant to share the details of your trauma with loved ones, find a way to communicate that you are struggling and let them know how they can be supportive.
PTSD is a life-altering condition.
Sometimes PTSD can become a life-threatening condition, particularly for veterans who feel they do not have options or appropriate support. Trauma can leave lasting marks on the mind and body but doesn’t have to take your life away entirely. Reaching out and taking the first steps toward recovery may end up being the best thing you’ve ever done.