PTSD; it’s something that can impact your life in a deep and long lasting way.
PTSD is common. It’s estimated that about 7-9 percent of our population meets the diagnostic criteria for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder at one point in their lives. So, if you have been though something terrifying, and now your struggling, you are not alone. It’s important to get trauma treatment from a qualified professional. And in the meantime, these PTSD tips for coping can help make your journey of recovery a little smoother
Remember, it’s very possible to recover from the effects of trauma. It just takes most people a while. So, your commitment to your own healing process is vital.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can arise after being exposed to a terrifying event. And traumatic events or conditions can shape our nervous systems. The human nervous system learns from experience, so if you have had traumatic experiences, there is a good chance that your nervous system has learned to be in survival mode.
PTSD symptoms are signs of a stuck nervous system; one that needs help resetting. So what can you do to help yourself along?
Learn About PTSD
We are fortunate. We live in a time when a world of information, lies at our fingertips. Excellent books and online articles can explain the basics of PTSD to you. Knowledge and information about trauma provides relief. Many of my clients have gained relief by learning how PTSD affects the body and the mind in very predictable ways. Self education increased their hope and fostered their resilience. After all, if other people have PTSD, that means there is a roadmap for recovery that you can tread.
But a word of caution is in order. Be careful about self diagnosing, or relying too much on self help. As one of my clients regularly jokes, “beware Dr. Google. Sometimes he is reassuring, sometimes misleading and sometimes terrifying”. So consider the source, take everything you read with a grain of salt and a big dose of humility. It can be easy to believe you know more than you do and it can be easy to lead yourself down an unhelpful path.
Cultivate Your Own Practice Of PTSD Calming Skills
PTSD changes the way your nervous system operates. Because of this, you might find yourself fighting surges of anxiety or irritability. If you struggle with these, then it can be helpful to practice a calming method. Over the years, I’ve seen my clients use a variety of techniques like:
- Yoga postures
- Deep breathing
- Meditation apps
- Exercise to burn off energy
Besides being good for your sleep and your overall well being, exercise helps to regulate and normalize your nervous system. In fact, research shows that regular exercise is much more effective than anti depressant drugs.
Cultivate Safety and Support
It’s next to impossible to recover from PTSD if you are currently in a threatening or unsafe relationship. So if your relationships are chaotic or high conflict, work with a therapist to help stabilize them. It’s a necessary precursor to trauma resolution.
And if you are fortunate enough to have a few people who have your back, tell them what you are going through and reach out for support. Isolation breeds fear, shame and anger.
Limit Your Drug and Alcohol Consumption
Even mild recreational drug and alchohol use disrupts the human sleep cycle. Alcohol is a neurotoxin. Regular use of drugs and alcohol slows down or completely halts the resolution of trauma.
PTSD and Avoidance.
Clarify your long term intentions and keep your commitments. Set your personal and professional goals and keep taking steps towards them.
On the road to PTSD recovery, avoidance is one of the biggest pitfalls. In fact, it’s avoidance that is a major factor in the development of the most anxiety disorders. The common expression which exhorts us to “get right back on the horse after you’ve been thrown” is a wise and important guideline for trauma recovery. Do your best to challenge yourself by doing the things that make you uncomfortable.
Many of the people who don’t recovery from PTSD get embroiled in avoiding the people and the places that might make them feel uncomfortable. They do this because they are trying to avoid triggering a flashback. Perhaps the saddest fact is that avoidance is the very reason most clients cite for avoiding or delaying trauma therapy.
Make Sure You Get Quality Trauma Therapy.
It’s important to get trauma informed care. Trauma therapy is a mental health specialty, and although most therapists have had clients with trauma histories, only a minority of health care counselors have pursued advanced training and education in trauma treatment. A trained and experienced trauma therapist will be able to effectively guide you in on your path of trauma resolution.
If you are considering treatment for PTSD, there are two excellent modalities that you should consider:
- EMDR is a therapy modality that was developed specifically with trauma in mind. It’s great for PTSD, Complex PTSD and developmental trauma
- Neurofeedback is a form of biofeedback that helps to train and regulate the nervous system. It’s powerfully aided many of my trauma patients.
You can find lots of information about both modalities on this site.
Click here if you want to find out more about my trauma therapy services