Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is an anxiety condition caused by exposure to traumatic experiences, such as military combat, the death of a loved one or domestic abuse. There are varying symptoms of PTSD that may develop because of trauma. These symptoms can affect cognition, mood, the ability to form new memories, the suppression of memories, as well as physical health. Some of these symptoms include anxiety, insomnia, nightmares, a heightened response to fear stimuli, and/or distress. In extreme or severe cases, symptoms can present themselves with such severity that a patient is unable to live their lives as “normal”.
There are many different routes one can take for PTSD treatment. These include Psychotherapy, Medications, or even alternative methods. There is not just one method of psychotherapy as there are many different ways of approaching trauma. Some, but not all, of the methods of Psychotherapy that have proven to work at alleviating symptoms of PTSD are:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)- Therapy that works to change negative patterns of thinking and self-blame.
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)- Therapy that is used specifically to treat trauma and its symptoms using exposure to traumatic memories and experiences.
- Exposure Therapy- This therapy does exactly what you would think and exposes the patient to the traumatic memories in order to help them learn new and safer coping mechanisms. One example of this is therapy that uses virtual reality in order to place patients face to face with their trauma in order to help them better process it and understand their emotions.
- Group Therapy- This type of therapy works well when those who suffer from PTSD come together to provide support to each other. It is known to reduce feelings of loneliness, isolation, helplessness, and shame in trauma victims.
Aside from Psychotherapy, there are also medications that can be used alone or in conjunction with therapy to help alleviate symptoms of PTSD. Medications do not treat PTSD but treat its individual symptoms. Aside from pharmaceutical antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication, which can have lasting side effects and be detrimental to one’s health, there are also more natural medications such as medical marijuana that can be very effective in treating PTSD and its symptoms as outlined in Marijuana For PTSD.
Some alternative methods for alleviating the symptoms of PTSD include but are not limited to:
- Massage Therapy
- Aroma Therapy
Many People With PTSD also find that a service dog greatly helps alleviate the daily stressors associated with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
If you are living with PTSD it is super important that you take care of yourself mentally, and physically. Some things that you can do according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness include practicing mindfulness, socializing, and avoiding recreational drugs and alcohol. Drugs and alcohol are known to disturb emotional balances and can interact with the medication or treatment plan outlined by your health care provider, which can cause unforeseen symptoms or side effects to occur. When you live with PTSD it is important to connect with other people with PTSD as it helps you feel less alone in your current situation. Practicing mindfulness is also a very important tip as it is all about returning to the present moment and away from the traumatic past.
How To Support Others With PTSD
If you are interacting with a family member or other loved one with PTSD there are certain tips for communicating to ensure that you are in fact supporting them. You should definitely avoid using language that can insinuate craziness or insanity. They are not crazy and you don’t want to make them think so. Talking openly about therapy and the benefits of therapy is also beneficial, especially if they are unsure about seeking help in the first place. If you are arguing or in the middle of a heated discussion DO NOT bring up therapy or help in that moment. Always wait for a quiet moment when everyone in the discussion is thinking clearly before bringing up seeking help. Listen to those with PTSD about their fears with different treatment and have open conversations helping end stigma around mental health care.
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