June was PTSD awareness month and I didn’t even know. I do know that a lot of people around me have it. I didn’t really know much another than the basics. Basics like, not everyone gets it, despite that it’s a normal response to trauma, it’s an anxiety disorder, and in the media it’s often ignored or people with it are made into murderers.
Here’s some general.
Post Traumatic Stress disorder is a treatable anxiety disorder cause by trauma.Not everyone gets it but those that do are not crazy. Women are more likely to get is than men. This is due to the increased likelihood of getting preyed on. Especially when it comes to sexual assault(10% of women report it as opposed to 4% of men) Women in many cultures are also treated differently when attacked, killed or forced to marry their attacker.
Getting PTSD depends on a lot of factors. Listed below are some of them.
- How intense the attack felt
- How close you were to the incident
- how in control you felt in the event
- If you were able to get physical and emotional help after
- previous history of mental illness
The basic symptoms are
- reliving the event
- avoiding reminders of the event
- negative changes in beliefs and feelings(shame, guilt, ect)
- always being on guard(hyper-arousal)
These symptoms can trigger other illnesses like depression, addiction, as well as cause relationship and employment issues. Possibly even suicide.
As I wrote, PTSD is treatable.
So far the most effective treatment appears to be CBT aka Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. The idea of the therapy is to teach you how to call bullshit on the thoughts PTSD feeds off of and rearrange them into something positive. Types of CBT include CPT or Cognitive Processing therapy, which teaches you to understand the changes in your thoughts. PE or Prolonged Exposure Therapy has you go to safe places that are triggers and talk about triggering subjects until they don’t bother you as much. Another type of therapy is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy. The idea is to teach how to focus on sounds or hand movements while talking about trauma.
Depending on severity, medications are also used. The idea here is to reduce the symptoms enough to learn how to manage the illness. Warning-Benzodiazepines(Benzos) and Atypical Anti-psychotics don’t treat the actual PTSD , just some of the other issues caused by it.
Other things that can help reduce symptoms are Active coping skills. Active coping skills are skills that can be used to prevent or stop symptoms in everyday life. In active coping as in life, Knowledge is power. Learning things about PTSD, positive coping skills, how to relax, healthy ways to distract yourself, and calling for backup when needed, can improve quality of live and make you a stronger person.
Before I end this post here are a couple reminders.
Recovery is a PROCESS, a lifestyle if you will.
Having memories is natural, they will, with use of healthy coping skills, will lessen
Panic attacks are not dangerous and are made worse than by the thoughts that come with them. They will pass.
Flashbacks are normal. try to keep your eyes open, move around, talk yourself down, talk to someone you trust and TELL YOUR DOCTOR or COUNSELOR.
When you have a nightmare try to remind yourself your having a dream, regroup, do something pleasant and calming, and tell your doctor or counselor.
If you have trouble sleeping try to keep a sleep schedule, only use your bed for sleeping and sex, don’t exercise drink caffeine or alcohol or use tobacco before bed. Don’t lay in bed thinking, get up and do something relaxing.
If Anger and irritability is an issue, try to get out of the situation, do something relaxing, exercise daily, talk to family members and more importantly, your counselor about it. Let them know how you feel and what your doing about it. Learn how to manage it.
Staying angry increases stress
Concentration can can be an issue. If you can try to slow down, write things down, break tasks up, talk to someone.
After trauma it is normal to have trouble expressing emotions. Make yourself do things you enjoyed before the event.Do things to show loved ones you still care.
(Most are American but there are resources in all countries. Please, if you have PTSD or know someone who does, get support.)
Joyful Heart Foundation