Traumatic incidents are more normal than we think. Many of us once thought that PTSD was only possible for ex-military members or those who experienced combat. However, post-traumatic stress disorder can develop after any frightening event. This includes sexual assault, emotional abuse, physical abuse, a robbery, national disaster, death of a loved one, illness, and more.
If you feel hopeless, frightened, sad, anxious, or depressed due to a specific event, you may be experiencing PTSD. The good news is, there are many treatments and resources available to help. Here is some information on PTSD, along with the best tips to overcome it.
How Does PTSD Affect the Brain?
Post-traumatic stress disorder occurs when the mind has undergone an event that is too difficult to process. The brain becomes stuck in fight of flight mode, even after the frightening incident has long passed. When the event occurs, your brain sends out stress signals that produce cortisol. This can lead to a rapid heartbeat, anger, frustration, scary thoughts, or panic. The stress signals may fade, but triggering events will cause them to flare up again.
Those with PTSD may be jolted by a sudden touch, a tone of voice, or certain sounds. Those triggers remind the brain of the past event and re-send the same signals to the brain. Individuals with PTSD may become violent, overreact, or have bad nightmares.
When those with PTSD are not triggered by certain sounds, smells, or touches, they may suffer from a low-level depression and anxiety. If left untreated, PTSD may lead to more mental health problems, isolation, and even suicide.
Tips to Overcome PTSD
Treating PTSD will vary, depending on the triggering event and individual needs. However, some best practices will help to feel better and eventually minimize the fear associated with the traumatic event. Here are some tips.
· Overcoming Helplessness – A lot of PTSD comes from feeling helpless and out of control. One of the best ways to regain a sense of control is to help others. Volunteering, reaching out to friends in need, or joining a cause in the local community can be very empowering. It also allows you to get out of yourself and your negative thoughts.
· Learn About PTSD –Knowledge is power. Learn about your condition and understand your triggers. Then create a plan of action to regain a sense of control. It will also remind you that PTSD is not a moral failure; it is caused by your brain and cortisol levels.
· Get Moving – Exercise is a great way to decrease the stress response and improve mental health. Find an activity that you love, especially something outdoors. This will also provide a sense of control that is great for overcoming mental health issues.
· Reach Out to Others – There are many support groups available to help those struggling with PTSD. Family and friends can also be a good listening ear. A trained therapist who understands traumatic events is also a must. Isolation and keeping feelings inside will only make matters worse. Options for therapy include trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy, EMDR, family therapy, and medication.
· Find a Sense of Purpose – Find something that makes you feel valuable and purposeful. A new job, a volunteer position, or a new hobby are some options. Staying busy can help you avoid excessive negative thoughts. At the same time, it’s not a good idea to pretend the feelings aren’t real. The goal is to live a normal happy life while still facing the severe trauma at hand.
Do you struggle with PTSD or do you know someone who does? If so, please contact Straight Talk Counseling at 714-828-2000 or visit our website at straighttalkcounseling.org. One of our staff members will be happy to set up an appointment for you.