“Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that can occur following the experience or witnessing of a traumatic event. A traumatic event is a life-threatening event such as military combat, natural disasters, terrorist incidents, serious accidents, or physical or sexual assault in adult or childhood.”
I chose to write this next blog because a few of my readers and followers have discussed with me about the issue of P.T.S.D. as well as through reading other blogs.
I honestly never shared this one thing about me. Some people know, while others not so much. So this is going to be one blog that may be hard for me to write. A few years ago I had gone to my PCP because every day life seemed to be really difficult. I didn’t feel like eating, I could not sleep, and even if I did sleep I was exhausted and just did not want to do my daily routine. After a couple of visits with my PCP and the social worker on my care team, we all came to an agreement to have me see a therapist to sit with me and prescribe me medication. While a certain group of people had tried to label me with one mental disorder (none of which were really certified except for one, who her herself said I may have something but not what they all were claiming), but my PCP, the social worker and this specific doctor said I had P.T.S.D. From the trauma I experienced in my past. Between the abuse of my father, and the abusive relationship(s).
Something had triggered it, which is why I was acting and feeling the way I was. Around that same time a horrific event happened in my city, sometimes I wonder if that was my trigger at that time. Also, I remember when I first left my ex, if I were out anywhere and smelt his cologne or anything similar to it, I would get freaked out and start looking around to see if he was there.
For some, P.T.S.D. is worse than others, some may not need medicine, while others may need some only for a short period of time or longer. One thing I have learned is that the medicine alone does not work, Speaking to someone is needed especially when first prescribed, you need to check in with the doctor who prescribed to see if the dosage needs to be decreased or increased; maybe if even possibly adding another form of medication. Everyone is different, and reacts differently; but you and your doctor(s) will find what works best for you.
People with P.T.S.D. can be triggered by things such as: sights, sounds, smells and also feelings. These triggers can bring back memories or flashbacks of the traumatic experience(s). The triggers can also cause extreme emotional and physical reactions, making someone who experiences these things to want to avoid any such contact with these triggers. Even though it sounds like a good idea to “run from the triggers” it is not. It may help temporarily, but in the long run it could make things much worse. Instead of avoiding these triggers, the best thing to do is to learn how to manage them. Like I said in the previous paragraph, speaking to a doctor about your symptoms will help immensely. There is nothing wrong with asking for help. There is nothing to be embarrassed about either. It is very common for someone who has experienced a traumatic experience or multiple experiences to have P.T.S.D. It affects over 8.5 million American adults which is about 3 ½ percent of the adult population.
Symptoms of P.T.S.D
Panic attacks: a feeling of intense fear, with shortness of breath, dizziness, sweating, nausea and racing heart.
Physical symptoms: chronic pain, headaches, stomach pain, diarrhea, tightness or burning in the chest, muscle cramps or low back pain.
Feelings of mistrust: losing trust in others and thinking the world is a dangerous place.
Problems in daily living: having problems functioning in your job, at school, or in social situations.
Substance abuse: using drugs or alcohol to cope with the emotional pain.
Relationship problems: having problems with intimacy, or feeling detached from your family and friends.
Depression: persistent sad, anxious or empty mood; loss of interest in once-enjoyed activities; feelings of guilt and shame; or hopelessness about the future. Other symptoms of depression may also develop.
Suicidal thoughts: thoughts about taking one’s own life. If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, chat online at http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Remember this one thing; You may have P.T.S.D. but it doesn’t have to have you. There is plenty of help available.
PTSD can be treated with success. Treatment and support are critical to your recovery. Although your memories won’t go away, you can learn how to manage your response to these memories and the feelings they bring up. You can also reduce the frequency and intensity of your reactions. The following information may be of help to you.
Psychotherapy. Although it may seem painful to face the trauma you went through, doing so with the help of a mental health professional can help you get better. There are different types of therapy.
Cognitive behavioral therapy helps you change the thought patterns that keep you from overcoming your anxiety.
During exposure therapy, you work with a mental health professional to help you confront the memories and situations that cause your distress.
Cognitive Processing Therapy helps you process your emotions about the traumatic event and learn how to challenge your thinking patterns.
Psychodynamic psychotherapy focuses on identifying current life situations that set off traumatic memories and worsen PTSD symptoms.
During Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, you think about the trauma while the therapist waves a hand or baton in front of you. You follow the movements with your eyes. This helps your brain process your memories and reduce your negative feelings about the memories.
Couples counseling and family therapy helps couples and family members understand each other.
Medicine, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs, is used to treat the symptoms of PTSD. It lowers anxiety and depression and helps with other symptoms. Sedatives can help with sleep problems. Anti-anxiety medicine may also help.
Support groups. This form of therapy, led by a mental health professional, involves groups of four to 12 people with similar issues to talk about. Talking to other survivors of trauma can be a helpful step in your recovery. You can share your thoughts to help resolve your feelings, gain confidence in coping with your memories and symptoms and find comfort in knowing you’re not alone. For a list of support groups in your area, contact your local Mental Health America organization. Find their information here.”
Self-care. Recovering from PTSD is an ongoing process. But there are healthy steps you can take to help you recover and stay well. Discover which ones help you feel better and add them to your life.
Connect with friends and family. It’s easy to feel alone when you’ve been through a trauma and are not feeling well. But isolation can make you feel worse. Talking to your friends and family can help you get the support you need. Studies show that having meaningful social and family connections in your life can have a positive impact on your health and healing.
Relax. Each person has his or her own ways to relax. They may include listening to soothing music, reading a book or taking a walk. You can also relax by deep breathing, yoga, meditation or massage therapy. Avoid using drugs, alcohol or smoking to relax.
Exercise. Exercise relieves your tense muscles, improves your mood and sleep, and boosts your energy and strength. In fact, research shows that exercise can ease symptoms of anxiety and depression. Try to do a physical activity three to five days a week for 30 minutes each day. If this is too long for you, try to exercise for 10 to 15 minutes to get started.
Get enough rest. Getting enough sleep helps you cope with your problems better, lowers your risk for illness and helps you recover from the stresses of the day. Try to get seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Visit the Sleep Foundation at www.sleepfoundation.org for tips on getting a better night’s sleep.
Keep a journal. Writing down your thoughts can be a great way to work through issues. Researchers have found that writing about painful events can reduce stress and improve health.
Refrain from using drugs and alcohol. Although using drugs and alcohol may seem to help you cope, it can make your symptoms worse, delay your treatment and recovery,