PTSD can happen to anyone who experiences or witnesses a traumatic event, with symptoms occasionally happening years after the incident. If you have flashbacks, bad dreams, relationship problems, or avoid any person, place, or thing which reminds you of trauma, then you may have posttraumatic stress disorder. But it’s treatable.
WHAT IS PTSD?
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health ailment that some people get after surviving or witnessing a traumatic event. The traumatic episode may be life-endangering, like war, a natural disaster, a car crash, or physical assault. But sometimes, the trauma isn’t even a difficult one. If you experience the sudden, unforeseen death of a family member, you may get PTSD as a result. The symptoms are different for everyone, but they can be managed.
KNOW THE SYMPTOMS
“Posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms may start within one month of a traumatic event, but sometimes symptoms may not appear until years after the event. These symptoms cause significant problems in social or work situations and in relationships. They can also interfere with your ability to go about your normal daily tasks.”
PTSD symptoms include:
- Intrusive memories.
- Adverse changes in thinking and mood.
- Fluctuations in emotional and physical reactions varying by person and time.
PTSD RISK FACTORS
Some factors that boost the risk for PTSD include:
- Living through difficult events and trauma
- Getting injured
- Seeing someone else hurt
- Childhood suffering
- Feeling terror, vulnerability, or intense fear
- Absence of social support after the traumatic event
- Dealing with more stress following the traumatic episode, like loss of a beloved, pain and injury, or losing your job or home
- A record of mental ailments or substance abuse can increase the risk
BEST WAY TO TREAT PTSD
Many doctors and mental health specialists who treat PTSD often recommend trauma-focused psychotherapies as the first line of defense against symptoms. Individual or group therapy is often combined with medicine or, in rare cases, short-term hospitalization. In most cases, treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder requires a life-long commitment. But not everyone is comfortable with antidepressants or other traditional medicine. The best way to treat PTSD depends on many factors but could include one or more of the following:
- Ketamine infusion therapy or esketamine nasal spray. Both are effective in treating symptoms of mental illness, chronic pain, and other conditions, and one form of ketamine was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration specifically for depressive symptoms.
- Deep breathing exercises focus on your abdominal muscles. Repeated exercises can, in effect, re-teach you how to breathe the right way and relieve tension associated with PTSD.
- Progressive muscle relaxation, where you alternate between tensing and releasing different muscle groups, has been known to reduce PTSD symptoms.
- Mindfulness is a decades-old practice known for helping to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, two critical components of PTSD.
- Self-monitor what’s happening in your life. This can mean daily journaling, where you jot down your thoughts and emotions, as well as the details of any situations that may have triggered PTSD symptoms. Daily records are beneficial not only for yourself but also for a doctor or clinician tasked with developing a treatment plan.
- Find a reliable support network. Sometimes family and friends, though they love you and mean well, aren’t the best support network if they don’t understand what you’re going through. For this reason, seek out peer groups and other organizations which support PTSD victims.
- Find a creative outlet. Many people with PTSD find solace by expressing themselves through artwork, creative writing, photography, and many other activities which take their minds off their symptoms. Behavioral activation is another worthy option.
DIAGNOSING & TREATING PTSD
Traveling down the path of recovery from PTSD is fraught with challenges and is likely a life-long endeavor. But the symptoms can be overcome if you get to them soon enough. Seeing a doctor for a medical exam and a mental health specialist for a psychiatric evaluation are two critical steps. Once your physical and mental health has been ascertained, you and your healthcare provider can discuss treatment options. Depending on factors like health and history of mental illness, you may be referred to psychotherapy, self-help, diet or lifestyle changes, particular medicine, or hospitalization. Another option is ketamine infusion.
If you experience symptoms of PTSD, know that you’re not alone in the struggle. Millions of people have PTSD-inducing trauma each year, but not everyone gets the care they need. PTSD and other kinds of mental illness can be treated. To learn more about how to treat the symptoms of PTSD, contact us today.