What is PTSD and What Can I Do About It?
What is PTSD?
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD is a mental health condition prompted after having witnessed or experienced a dreadful or horrible occurrence. Unfortunate incidents like being raped, shocking accidents, near-death experiences, or acts of terrorism can all cause PTSD. In the past, PTSD was only associated with military soldiers who encountered horrific events on the battleground. But, any person regardless of age, gender, or even lifestyle can experience PTSD after a traumatic experience.
Here are some of the PTSD symptoms:
Re-living the unfortunate incident through disturbing nightmares, or flashbacks regarding the shocking experience.
Thoughts of suicide or homicide.
Keeping away from things that led to the event, or the place it occurred, the people who did it, or thoughts that can make the memories of the trauma flood back.
Finding it difficult to maintain a healthy relationship with loved ones.
Having problems with concentrating or getting sleep.
Easily startled, like jumping when hearing a loud noise or being always alert for danger.
Disinterested in the things one used to enjoy.
As a person tries to cope with the painful memories, they may find themselves using negative coping tactics to manage the PTSD symptoms. Even though a negative coping approach may seem to work as it relieves the symptoms, it can be damaging if used for a prolonged time. Some of the negative coping strategies include: isolation from crowds, avoid being in contact with loved ones, acting on suicidal or homicidal thoughts, or taking drugs or alcohol to numb feelings or calm your thoughts. Continuous usage of these can lead to addiction, which will lead to a new problem.
Instead, use better ways can keep your symptoms in check, such as:
1. Physical activities
People experiencing PTSD are encouraged to be involved in physical activities such as exercising, running, or dancing. Finding an enjoyable activity and doing it often can decrease stress, anxiety and help control symptoms associated with PTSD. This is because a person stays focused on the activity, thus living in the moment and having less room to think about the incident.
2. Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness meditation is a type of meditation whereby a person concentrates on being aware of what is happening around them, such as what is heard and seen, as well as things that are happening on the inside, such as feelings and thoughts. Performing mindfulness meditation includes breathing techniques and other practices that help relax the body and mind, thus lowering stress. People suffering from PTSD find it difficult to concentrate on things that matter in their lives, like studies, work, or relationships. Mindfulness can help get back in touch with the present moment and help go back to doing the things that brought joy.
Essential oils have a positive effect on people suffering from PTSD. The oils used in aromatherapy influence the brain’s limbic system. The limbic system is a set of structures in the brain that handles memory and emotions. When traumatized, it is this part of the brain that suffers the most. Essential oils such as mint, lavender, or rose, when massaged on specific points like the forehead, can bring about calming effects.
4. Pet Therapy
According to studies, PTSD symptoms can be relieved by close interaction with animals. Interacting with a pet can help in calming mental and physical symptoms. Commonly used animals for therapy include cats and dogs. A pet can alleviate your mood by helping you feel less stressed and can as well offer companionship.
5. Art therapy
This therapy uses creative mechanisms like painting, drawing, and coloring to express feelings when words fail. Art therapy helps persons diagnosed with PTSD to actualize their feelings and establish ways to manage traumatic memories using art. Art helps by safely giving voice to the patient’s experience of thoughts, memories, and emotions revealed when words are not enough.
6. Other Counseling Modalities
PTSD often brings a feeling of shame, guilt, or anger, and those experiencing these feelings might fear to open up to others about their trauma. Treatment can be administered through medicine, psychotherapy, and combination of both. Therapies such as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), and Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), have proved to be effective in treating PTSD.
After witnessing or experiencing traumatic events, some develop short-term PTSD symptoms while others may develop long-term or severe symptoms. But with proper self-care, therapy, and professional help, one can overcome the disorder and get back to his/her normal life.
Here at ITS, we have trained therapists that help those suffering from PTSD. Give us a call to find out more at (954) 903-1676.
Your Therapy Friend,
Sofia Robirosa is the owner of Infinite Therapeutic Services and is a Perinatal & Relationships Expert. She offers individual, couples, and family counseling to individuals seeking to enhance their relationship with their children and significant other. Her private practice is located in Plantation, FL. She attended Nova Southeastern University for both her Bachelor and Master Degrees in Marriage and Family Therapy and in Business Administration. She is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, a Perinatal Mental Health Certified Professional, and a Leader in Active Parenting for children and teens. She loves her family, which consists of her husband, daughter and son, and two dogs. Some of her interests outside of work include spending time outdoors, traveling, and dining. Read more about her at: www.plantationcounseling.com and follow her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/infinitetherapy/