Coping with PTSD

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Coping with PTSD

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Coping with PTSD :

By Col Mukteshwar Prasad( Retd ) Based on NIMH Paper Coping with PTSD

An Overview of PTSD Symptoms :

An Overview of PTSD Symptoms Through years of research, 17 PTSD symptoms have been identified. These are symptoms that can develop following the experience of a traumatic event and are listed in the 4th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (or DSM-IV) . These 17 symptoms are divided into three separate clusters. The three PTSD symptom clusters, and the specific symptoms that make up these clusters, are described below.

Re-Experiencing:

Re-Experiencing Frequently having upsetting thoughts or memories about a traumatic event. Having recurrent nightmares. Acting or feeling as though the traumatic event were happening again, sometimes called a "flashback." Having strong feelings of distress when reminded of the traumatic event. Being physically responsive, such as experiencing a surge in your heart rate or sweating, to reminders of the traumatic event.

Avoidance Symptoms:

Avoidance Symptoms Making an effort to avoid thoughts, feelings , or conversations about the traumatic event. Making an effort to avoid places or people that remind you of the traumatic event. Having a difficult time remembering important parts of the traumatic event. A loss of interest in important, once positive, activities. Feeling distant from others. Experiencing difficulties having positive feelings , such as happiness or love. Feeling as though your life may be cut short.

Hyperarousal Symptoms:

Hyperarousal Symptoms Having a difficult time falling or staying asleep. Feeling more irritable or having outbursts of anger. Having difficulty concentrating. Feeling constantly "on guard" or like danger is lurking around every corner. Being "jumpy" or easily startled. Many of these symptoms are an extreme version of our body's natural response to stress. Understanding our body's natural response to threat and danger (the fight or flight response ) can help us better understand the symptoms of PTSD.

Do You Need All of These Symptoms for a Diagnosis of PTSD?:

Do You Need All of These Symptoms for a Diagnosis of PTSD? To be diagnosed with PTSD , a person does not need to have all these symptoms. In fact, rarely does a person with PTSD would experience all the symptoms listed above. To receive a diagnosis of PTSD, you only need a certain number of symptoms from each cluster. Additional requirements for the diagnosis also need to be assessed, such as how the person initially responded to the traumatic event, how long the symptoms have been experienced, and the extent with which those symptoms interfere with a person's life.

Healthy Ways to Deal with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder:

Healthy Ways to Deal with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can have a tremendous impact on a person's life, and therefore, coping with PTSD in healthy ways is important. The distressing symptoms of PTSD can negatively affect close relationships, mood, and ability to be effective at work or school. The symptoms of PTSD are difficult to cope with, and they often lead people to use more unhealthy ways of coping, such as alcohol or drug use . However, you can do a number of healthy things to manage your PTSD symptoms and improve your quality of life: Find Information on PTSD Learn more about the diagnosis of PTSD , its causes , and its consequences . You are better able to tackle or cope with a problem the more information you have about that problem. See a Therapist A number of mental health professionals specialize in the treatment of PTSD. In addition, a number of psychological and medication treatment options have been found to be quite effective in alleviating the symptoms of PTSD. A therapist can provide you with support and help you learn more effective ways to manage your PTSD symptoms and related difficulties.

Healthy Ways to Deal with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder:

Healthy Ways to Deal with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Lean On Others People with PTSD often feel disconnected or detached from others, even people that they were once close to. Someone with PTSD may have a difficult time opening up or disclosing information about their experience as a result of feeling ashamed or not wanting to burden another person. However, it is clear that people with PTSD do better the more social support they have . Therefore, even though it may be difficult to do, it is important to establish supportive relationships with people you trust and who are willing to be there for you. Join a Support Group A number of support groups are available for people with PTSD. Listening to other peoples' experiences with PTSD can help validate the feelings you may be experiencing. You can also learn from how other people have overcome the effects of a traumatic experience. You can learn more about available support groups in your area through the National Alliance on Mental Illness .

Healthy Ways to Deal with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder:

Healthy Ways to Deal with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Learn Relaxation Skills Relaxation can be a powerful tool in managing the fear and anxiety that accompanies a PTSD diagnosis. Deep breathing exercises are a very simple way of managing your anxiety in the moment. Monitor Your Symptoms The thoughts and feelings associated with PTSD are often so distressing that people often try to avoid them (understandably so). However, through self-monitoring , you can learn more about what situations trigger your PTSD symptoms, giving you important information on where and when coping methods need to be used. Identify and Take Part in Positive Activities People with PTSD may find that certain activities are no longer pleasurable, or that they may be afraid to go out and do the things they once enjoyed. However, this avoidance only maintains feelings of despair and depression. It is important to continue to do the things that you used to enjoy , even if you do not feel as though they are pleasurable in the moment. Your ability to do this will come in time, and this may prevent your depression and anxiety from getting worse.

Healthy Ways to Deal with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder:

Healthy Ways to Deal with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Use Healthy Distraction Distraction can be a useful way of coping with stressful thoughts or feelings that seem overpowering. Distraction may take the form of reading a book, talking to a friend, taking a bath, watching a movie (although make sure the movie does not have any triggering images in it), or exercise. However, it is important to remember that distraction is about getting through a tough moment as opposed to trying to avoid distress. After your distress has subsided, it is important to examine what triggered you and identify other ways you could have managed that distress. Write About Your Feelings and Thoughts This has been found to be very helpful, especially in expressing and organizing your experience surrounding a stressful event. In addition, writing can be a positive experience because you have control over how much information you want to disclose and how far you want to go.

Healthy Ways to Deal with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder:

Healthy Ways to Deal with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Be Mindful Mindfulness is about being completely in-touch with the present moment in a non-evaluative or non-judgmental way. Mindfulness can help you take a step back from your thoughts, potentially reducing the extent with which they fuel anxiety and fear. Try an easy mindfulness exercise to get started. Improve Your Physical Health Our emotional health is strongly connected to our physical health. In addition, people with PTSD are often at risk for a number of physical health problems . Therefore, it can be important for a person with PTSD to live a healthy lifestyle, exercise and maintain a good diet. Be Spiritual Finally, it has been found that establishing or connecting with a sense of spirituality (regardless of how you define spirituality) can have a very positive influence on your ability to overcome a traumatic experience .

Conclusion:

Conclusion These are just a few ways of coping with PTSD, and there are likely many more out there. It is important to identify what coping strategies work for you and when. Some coping strategies may work in some situations, but not in others. Therefore, it is very important to be flexible in your use of different coping strategies. The more tools you have to manage your PTSD symptoms, the better off you will be.

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