Unfortunately, many people in the modern world either experience or witness traumatic events. It is normal after such an experience to struggle to adjust. However, with adequate self care your ability to cope will hopefully improve over time. If the symptoms linger for a long time, possibly getting worse, and/or interfere with your ability to function on a day to day basis, then you might be suffering from what is known as PTSD. PTSD stands for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
It is still unclear why some people develop this disorder. However, there seem to be a few underlying factors that interact in a complex manner. These are some of the factors that, in combination, might lead to the development of PTSD:
- Predisposition to anxiety and depression
- Traumatic life experience(s)
- Your temperament
- The manner in which your brain regulates stress hormones
- Very sensitive personalities
- Strong insecurities
There are certain risk factors that seem to make it more likely that you will develop PTSD. These risk factors include:
- Intense or long-lasting trauma
- Childhood trauma
- Jobs such as military personnel and first responders
- Anxiety, depression or other related mental health problems
- Poor or nonexistent support system
- Being related to people who suffer from depression, PTSD, or other mental health problems
- The inability to change perception or reframe experiences
In addition to these risk factors, there are certain types of traumatic events that seem to be more likely to lead to PTSD than others. Examples of these traumatic events include:
- Exposure to combat
- Neglect and physical abuse during childhood
- Physical attacks
- Sexual assault
- Threats with a weapon
- Fires and other natural disasters
- Mugging and robbery
- Plane crashes, car accidents, or similar
- Being diagnosed with a life-threatening illness
- Terrorist attacks
- Other life-threatening or extreme events
- Any experience that is “perceived” as extremely upsetting or traumatic to that individual (even though it might not be perceived that way to others).
The symptoms of PTSD will differ from person to person. Regardless of the exact spectrum of symptoms that you experience, it is likely that they will affect your relationships, social life, as well as your work.
These symptoms are generally classified into the four broad categories below. Included are some examples of symptoms that fall under each category:
- Intrusive memories
- Recurrent distressing memories of the traumatic event
- Severe emotional or physical reactions to triggers
- Refusing to think or talk about the event
- Avoiding people, situations, media or anything that might bring up a reminder
- Sleeping excessively, burying oneself in TV or anything that keeps all thoughts from drifting toward the experience
- Negative changes in thinking and mood
- Emotional numbness
- Sense of hopelessness
- Memory problems
- Difficulty maintaining close relationships
- Deep depression
- Excessive stress over minute things
- Inability to cope with day to day events
- Changes in emotional reactions
- Severe anxiety
- Difficulty concentrating and/or sleeping
- Self-destructive behavior
- Easily startled or frightened
You will probably find that the severity of your symptoms varies over time. It is common for symptoms to be more severe when you are experiencing any kind of stress, and when certain things trigger memories of the event.
When you are suffering from PTSD it is important that you reach out to people who might be able to help you. Speak to a close friend or relative and explain what you are going through.
If you are religious, speak to a spiritual leader to gain support and guidance. You might also want to consider seeing a counselor or psychologist for professional assistance. Seek the help of a healthcare professional such as a doctor or a psychiatrist and especially someone who specializes in this disorder.
Whether you choose to see a primary health care provider or a mental health professional, it helps to prepare for your appointment.
- Make a list of all the symptoms that you have been experiencing. Make a note of the duration of these symptoms.
- List all the experiences in your life that have made you feel fearful, terrified, helpless, or traumatized. Make a note if any of these memories make you want to immediately push that event out of your mind.
- List all past diagnoses of any physical or mental health problems.
- Make a note of any supplements and medication that you’re taking, as well as the dosages.
A diagnosis will be made on the basis of your signs and symptoms, as well as a thorough psychological evaluation.
The focus of any type of PTSD treatment is to reduce your symptoms and thereby increase your ability to function effectively in day to day life. This will in turn, empower you to regain a sense of control in your life.
The primary forms of treatment for PTSD are psychotherapy and medication. The forms of psychotherapy that are most frequently used are cognitive therapy, exposure therapy, and eye movement desensitization and reprogramming (EMDR).
Medication can be prescribed to treat various symptoms such as depression, anxiety, insomnia, and nightmares.
Another method that has been very effective is tapping or EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique http://www.emofree.com/). By tapping on certain acupressure points stored emotional traumas can be released. For more serious cases. especially PTSD, it is highly recommended that you find an experienced EFT practitioner. For more information about a very powerful tapping program that my husband Rafael has used very effectively check out www.thetappingsolution.com.
There are several things that you can do to help yourself on your journey of healing from PTSD:
- Adhere to your treatment plan, whether it’s therapy, medication, or both.
- Research PTSD so that you can better understand what suitable coping mechanisms you can apply in your life.
- Enjoy a healthy lifestyle. This means following a healthy balanced diet, exercising regularly, getting sufficient sleep, and making time to relax.
- Avoid all things that could worsen anxiety. This includes nicotine and caffeine.
- Don’t self medicate with drugs or alcohol. Although this might feel as though it’s numbing your emotions, it will hamper your healing and only make things worse in the end.
- Break the cycle of anxiety. When you start feeling anxious, do something to refocus your energy elsewhere. This could be anything from exercising, writing, meditating, to engaging in a hobby. Consider adding a family pet into your life they bring tremendous emotional support!
- Spend time with friends and family. You don’t always have to talk about PTSD, but it is important to establish and maintain a support network so that people understand what you are going through and are there to support you when you need it. This may be friends or family and may only be your therapist.
- If possible, it is a great idea to join a local support group. It helps to share your burden with others who are suffering similar effects. If you choose to go to a group be sure to note how you feel when you are there and how you feel afterwards. If you feel hopeful, uplifted and calmer, continue. If you feel heavier, more anxious or as if you will never ‘get ahead’ of this, find another group or cease attending.
PTSD can feel as though it has control over you and your life. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Reach out to others for help and support, and do what you can to care for yourself and promote the healing process.
You can also learn more about Reframing and Perception Principles at www.ultimaterelationshipacademy.com
The bottom line is you CAN find relief and heal from any trauma if you are willing to stay with what it takes to let it go.
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Author: Esateys Stuchiner
Esateys (pronounced Ee sáh teez) is an International Life Transformational Speaker, Author, Master Facilitator, Life Coach and Expert in the Human condition. She is a Nationally and Board Certified Nurse Practitioner. For over 30 years, she has practiced, taught and lectured extensively in the allopathic and alternative medicine field.
Esateys is known for her groundbreaking work in the areas of personal empowerment and health restoration using mindset and inner connection as the catalyst for all change.
Esateys describes herself as the ‘Architect of the New You’ and has dedicated her life and professional career to helping her clients create “New Beginnings” by facilitating self empowerment, economic freedom and restored health.
For more information, go to esateys.com.