Cope with PTSD and Get Assistance
Edited by Inukshuk, Grimm
Knowing What You're Up Against Can Help Fight PTSD
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a response to a traumatic event.
Trauma is an emotional response to an event or conditions, usually unpredictable and uncontrollable, in which the person is overwhelmed emotionally and/or physically. They may feel intense fear, the event may be life threatening, and many have a sense of helplessness. PTSD may manifest itself in a person either by actually experiencing the event, or by exposure to a traumatic event, like watching the events of 911 on TV. It can even be experienced by those who are caregivers such as; healthcare workers, firefighters, and police. The traumatic events may occur one time or may be re-occurring experiences. Each person copes with traumatic events in their own way.
PTSD may develop within days, months or even years after the event. People who have been exposed to life threatening events, (car accidents, war, severe illnesses, rape, or physical and emotional abuse), or those who have witnessed violent acts or deaths are at risk of developing PTSD.
The symptoms of PTSD present suddenly, gradually, or come and go over a period of years. PTSD symptoms can resurface out of the blue, and many times the triggers are unknown. At times, a trigger, which may be conscious or subconscious, will remind the person of the event. The trigger may be sounds, smells, images, or certain words, to name a few. Sometimes the trigger might even have nothing to do with the event.
Three Main Symptoms that Everyone with PTSD Experiences
- 3Mood Changes:There may be increased anxiety and hypervigilance, irritability, outbursts of anger, difficulty with falling asleep or staying asleep.National Criminal Justice Reference Service - PTSD Abstract
Find Ways for Coping and Get Assistance with PTSD
For many, it can be difficult asking or seeking help in coping with PTSD.
Talking to a professional, whether it is your physician, clergy, or a counselor can best direct you in finding treatment options to help you cope with PTSD. In addition to professional help, you can also help yourself as you work towards coping and resolution of the PTSD.
- 1Symptoms:As you learn coping strategies, they will gradually improve. Learning about your symptoms and what the mechanism of actions are, helps you to understand what is happening to you and aids in your coping abilities. Identify PTSD Symptoms.Advertisement
- 2Self care:It is important for you to eat healthy foods, use good hygiene, and avoid alcohol and non-prescription drugs. Alcohol is a depressant and can make recovery difficult as can non-prescription drugs, which can contribute to triggering PTSD, and may adversely affect your heart and other organs.
- 4Stress reduction:Participate in some form of mild physical activity. Mild exercise has been shown to decrease stress levels. Find places and people that help you to relax, for example; walking on the beach, hiking in the woods or bird watching are ways to help you to get exercise and not become house bound.
- 5Choosing a therapist:Seek out a provider who has experience treating others with PTSD. You can seek recommendations from your healthcare provider, family and friends, your health insurance company, contact your family doctor to ask for a recommendation. You can also ask friends and family if they can recommend someone. For more information, read our article on How to Choose a Therapist for PTSD.Advertisement
Tips and Resources for Managing PTSD
- For some, having faced a traumatic event and confronting your feelings can be difficult to acknowledge and come to terms with. It is important to seek professional assistance for correct diagnoses and to effectively treat PTSD.
- PTSD affects family and friends, which they sometimes neglect their own needs when caring for someone with PTSD. Dealing with a loved one with PTSD can be emotionally draining even when they are in therapy. It is important for family and friends to obtain support and knowledge about PTSD so that they may also learn to cope with it in a healthy manner.
- Learning about PTSD helps you to understand what your loved one is experiencing. The caregiver must take care of themselves too. Some sufferers of PTSD are prone to sudden and sometimes violent outbursts, which is an overreaction to otherwise ordinary events, and can be a common symptom of PTSD. Often these outbursts are in response to a perceived danger or threat to loved ones, yet because the loved one sees no threat, he or she reacts defensively, viewing the person suffering from PTSD as the threat. This can lead to both people feeling a sense of betrayal, and leave the person suffering from PTSD feeling even more isolated and alone. Counseling with both parties is the best way to get help with this, as it will help them understand one another better, and work to overcome this disorder.
- Most us states have a national 211* referral line that connects people with important community services (employment, food pantries, housing, support groups, etc.). Dial 2-1-1.
- The Sidran Institute* is a nonprofit organization that helps people understand, recover from, and treat traumatic stress and offers a referral list of therapists for PTSD. You can contact the help desk via email or by leaving a confidential voicemail: 1-410-825-8888.
- The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)* offers a family-to-family education program for caregivers of people with severe mental illness. You can also email or call the information helpline: 1-800-950-nami (6264).
If you are thinking about harming yourself, or know someone who is, tell someone who can help immediately:
- Call 911 or go to a hospital emergency room to get immediate help or ask a friend or family member to help you do these things.
- Call the toll-free, 24-hour hotline of the national suicide prevention lifeline at 1–800–273–talk (1–800–273–8255); tty: 1–800–799–4tty (4889) to talk to a trained counselor.
- Contact crisis line for Veterans: They can be reached at 1-800-273-8255. Then you need to press one, or you can text 838255). This will let you chat with a confidential veterans counselor
- Make sure you or the suicidal person is not left alone.
- You can get additional help from the US Department of veterans Affairs, where a list of PTSD assistance offerings can be found.
- The National Institutes of Health has additional support options.
- If you have problems with any of these steps, ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.