Supporting Someone With Ptsd
Research has shown that support from family and friends is important in helping someone overcome the debilitating effects of PTSD. Couples or family therapy can help to fix damaged relationships. In some cases, family members may need to seek support of their own.
For detailed information on the most effective treatments for PTSD, see The Australian Guidelines for the Treatment of Acute Stress Disorder and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.
Recovering From Rape Or Sexual Trauma Step : Open Up About What Happened To You
It can be extraordinarily difficult to admit that you were raped or sexually assaulted. Theres a stigma attached. It can make you feel dirty and weak. You may also be afraid of how others will react. Will they judge you? Look at you differently? It seems easier to downplay what happened or keep it a secret. But when you stay silent, you deny yourself help and reinforce your victimhood.
Reach out to someone you trust. Its common to think that if you dont talk about your rape, it didnt really happen. But you cant heal when youre avoiding the truth. And hiding only adds to feelings of shame. As scary as it is to open up, it will set you free. However, its important to be selective about who you tell, especially at first. Your best bet is someone who will be supportive, empathetic, and calm. If you dont have someone you trust, talk to a therapist or call a rape crisis hotline.
Challenge your sense of helplessness and isolation. Trauma leaves you feeling powerless and vulnerable. Its important to remind yourself that you have strengths and coping skills that can get you through tough times. One of the best ways to reclaim your sense of power is by helping others: volunteer your time, give blood, reach out to a friend in need, or donate to your favorite charity.
Ptsd Treatment And Remission
Doctors primarily rely on counseling or psychotherapy to help people recover from PTSD. The most highly regarded psychotherapeutic option is an approach called cognitive behavioral therapy. This therapy produces its benefits by educating affected individuals about the illness, making them more aware of the situations that trigger their symptoms and teaching them to establish new behavioral patterns that dont trigger their symptoms. Some doctors also use other psychotherapeutic approaches that include eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, brief psychodynamic psychotherapy, family counseling and group therapy. In addition, PTSD treatment may include the use of a class of antidepressant medications known as SSRIs .
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How Do I Recognize Ptsd In Myself Or Others
With any traumatic event, it is completely normal to feel impacted. However, PTSD symptoms may interfere with the persons ability to function in their normal settings or environment.
While there are many symptoms of PTSD, they are often dismissed as something other than post-traumatic stress disorder. If symptoms escalate over time, interfere with the ability to go about day-to-day activities, or dont diminish with time, it may be worth talking to someone about the possibility of a PTSD diagnosis.
When considering if you or a loved one are living with PTSD, its important to remember that the onset of symptoms can show at any time, not just immediately after experiencing trauma. Many people have reported symptoms appearing decades after being exposed to trauma.
While military members are common among PTSD patients, women are two times more likely than men to experience PTSD, and it is often the result of trauma like domestic violence, physical abuse, or rape.
While some people are predisposed to post-traumatic stress disorder, it can impact anyone. As PTSD has many symptoms, its important to remember that someone may only express one of the following symptomsor all of them.
Each affected person will have a unique experience with PTSD and may experience any of the following:
Common Barriers To Recovery From Ptsd Explained
There are barriers to recovery from posttraumatic stress disorder . Mental illness recovery often begins as an uphill battle. It doesn’t help that aside from difficult symptoms, those of us living with one or more mental illness also have to combat stigma and wide-spread misinformation–all while navigating a mental healthcare system that often favors the wealthy. Recovery from PTSD is saddled with some very specific barriers. In fact, treatment resistance is actually a symptom of PTSD. If you or a loved one are struggling to recover from trauma, please hold back from judgement. There are reasons for treatment-resistant PTSD behaviors you or your loved one are not at fault.
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How To Help Someone Through Recovery Barriers
It’s difficult to watch someone you love resist PTSD recovery, especially when you know that recovery would be possible if he or she chose to do the work. Unfortunately, many of these barriers involve inward, self-reinforcing beliefs. That means that even if you remind your friend that she deserves to heal, and list all the very real reasons why that’s true, she will likely still find her own reasons why it’s not.
It doesn’t mean you should give up, but it’s important that you practice compassion. It’s excruciating to watch a loved one run circles tearing herself apart, but if you continue to listen and be available for her, you will demonstrate your love for her better than words ever could.
Signs A Veteran May Have Ptsd
- Obsessive-compulsive thoughts & re-experiencing the devastating event. This manifests with nightmares and flashbacks. And the emotions on display are panic attacks, uncontrollable shaking, and heart racing.
- A person with PTSD avoids people, places, thoughts, and situations that remind them of the trauma. Its common for them to withdraw from family. They often have conflicting views about the world. These negative thoughts could also be accompanied by survivors guilt if theyve lost someone close to them.
- Their family may observe their loved one is no longer able to reflect positive emotions. Or they may become overwhelmed by emotions and dont handle stress very well.
- Other possible behaviors a Veteran with PTSD might display include: being easily irritated or having angry outbursts. And then theres the risk of depression, substance abuse, or memory lapses. Veterans may be unable to keep a job, have marital problems, or have troubles with family members.
Now you understand some of the symptoms, there is more to the picture. The survivor of the traumatic event may be especially agitated. They might display aggressive behavior, difficulty sleeping and problems concentrating. When there are trauma triggers, Veterans may become preoccupied with negative or destructive thoughts. Based on past experiences, they may become hypervigilant.
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Unwanted And Intrusive Memories
When memories seem to turn against us, they can be traumatic in their own right, especially when they are memories were trying to forget. These unwanted and intrusive memories may look like the following symptoms:
- Reliving traumatic events over and over or having flashbacks of the event
- Recurring memories of the event while waking or sleeping
- Upsetting nightmares
- Physical and/or emotional distress triggered by sights, sounds, and even smells that remind you of the traumatic event
Eye Movement Desensitization And Reprocessing
With EMDR, you might not have to tell your therapist about your experience. Instead, you concentrate on it while you watch or listen to something they’re doing — maybe moving a hand, flashing a light, or making a sound.
The goal is to be able to think about something positive while you remember your trauma. It takes about 3 months of weekly sessions.
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Think Of It As A Slipup Vs A Failure
During recovery, it’s common to set hard and fast rules for yourself, such as “I will never have another drink again.” This may be a great goal if you tend to use alcohol to deal with PTSD’s symptoms. However, it may not always be realistic, especially if you are in the early stages of recovery.
When you set black-and-white rules for yourself, you’re more likely to beat yourself up about a slip. This is probably only going to motivate the very behavior you are trying to stop. As a result, you may lose control over that behavior and fall farther and farther off track.
One way to make it easier to stop an unhealthy behavior during PTSD recovery is by viewing that action as only a slipup or a temporary misstep. Don’t think of it as an indication of failure or a sign that there is no hope.
Changing unhealthy behaviors is not an easy thing to do, especially if you are also experiencing other symptoms of PTSD. Because of this, treat yourself with understanding and self-compassion if you slip.
How Long Does Ptsd Last For
The course of the illness will vary from person to person, and event to event. Some people recover within six months, while others have symptoms that last much longer, and PTSD can become chronic.
As with most mental illness, PTSD is intensely personal and no two cases are the same.
The length of time a person can experience post-traumatic stress disorder varies, says Dr Kriegeskotten.
When PTSD is not treated, it can last a very long time, perhaps a lifetime. For others, the symptoms can fade over time, but increase again on an anniversary or at a triggering time in their life.
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Find A Creative Outlet
Creative outlets such as art therapy for PTSD and music therapy for PTSD can have a positive effect on symptoms. Other hobbies such as creative writing or crafting can provide relief from anxiety and irritability. Some experts suggest that creative tasks like quilting or art projects may be useful for people who dont find the relief they need from commonplace psychological therapies.
Fortunately, research shows that creative therapies can be effective for PTSD. In a study with veterans, a music intervention was found to significantly reduce symptoms of depression and severity of PTSD.
Other creative hobbies for veterans with PTSD might include:
- Learning to play an instrument
Do The Impossible: Healing From Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
PTSD is an invisible monster. It disguises reality. When I was sucked into what I learned to call the trauma vortex, I often couldnt distinguish between what was real and what wasnt. I thought I was going crazy.
PTSD told me this over and over again: Youre not safe. You never will be. Being dead would be better than living one more day like this. The message from my illness was clear: Give up.
Fortunately, thanks to my prior, hard-foughtand victoriousrecovery from an eating disorder, I knew that feelings of hopelessness and helplessness are just a part of mental illness. At one point or another, most of us who struggle believe that we are too far gone to ever get better.
While I have written about my eating disorder recovery in several books, my battle against PTSD and its accompanying and unrelenting depression are lesser known. I havent spoken much about this experience yet, because for so long, I didnt even know that I suffered from trauma, much less PTSD.
Even though I had sought help from well-meaning doctors and therapists for years, my PTSD and trauma were continually missed and dismissed. It wasnt until I visited Dr. Google with the words exaggerated startle response, that I came to learn the truth: I wasnt losing my mind. I was struggling with a real problem that had an actual name. Indeed, in light of the fact that PTSD is a brain injury, the flashbacks, nightmares, rage, and utter despair actually made sense.
Heading in the Right Direction
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Can You Recover From Trauma
There are many types of trauma, and theres no one-size-fits-all approach to treatment. However, trauma-focused therapy may be able to help you in your path to recovery.
From a broken heart to a car accident, many of us can recall events in our lives that caused us a great deal of pain. But when an experience causes our nervous system to boil over with stress, it can form a kind of psychological scarring. This is called trauma.
According to the American Psychological Association , 1 in 2 people will experience a traumatic event in their lifetime.
Trauma does not discriminate. It can impact people of every race, ethnicity, sex, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, and background.
Even though the symptoms of trauma can feel overwhelming, it is possible to recover and feel better. Trauma therapy is an option to achieve this.
What Events Can Lead To The Development Of Ptsd
You dont have to experience a specific trauma to develop PTSD. Many people associate this disorder with military veterans. While PTSD is common in military populations, simply witnessing an event, like a car accident, can trigger PTSD symptoms.
In these cases, painful, traumatic memories can appear out of nowhere, creating intense physical and emotional reactions. During World War I, this was referred to as shell shock. When the horrors of war were too much for the brain to manage, the brain, or at least part of the brain, simply shut off.
Children and teens often experience PTSD as a result of traumas that impact them, such as school shootings, domestic violence, auto accidents, neglect, or abuse. 15-43% of adolescents will experience a traumatic event, with about a quarter of those individuals experiencing symptoms of PTSD.
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Causes Symptoms And Risks
PTSD is caused by experiencing or witnessing single, repeated or multiple events. For example:
- serious accidents
- physical and sexual assault abuse. This could include childhood or domestic abuse
- work-related exposure to trauma. Such as being in the army
- trauma related to serious health problems or childbirth
- war and conflict torture
Not everyone who experiences trauma will develop PTSD.
The risk of getting PTSD depends on how the experience affects you. PTSD is more likely to develop if the traumatic event:
- is unexpected,
- Self help
How can the NHS help me?
You can speak to your GP about your concerns. They will be able to talk to you about treatment options and coping strategies. You dont have to do what your GP thinks that you should do. But you should listen to them.
Make sure that you understand the pros and cons of your treatment options before you make a decision.
Your treatment with be managed by your GP or the community mental health team . In some cases, your treatment maybe shared between both primary and secondary care. Healthcare professionals will agree who will monitor you.
Some people will get care under the Care Programme Approach . This means that you will have a care plan and care coordinator to make sure that you get the support that you need.
Look at the following section for more information on NHS treatment.
Adult social services
What other help is available?
There may be a different service available, such as employment or isolation support.
Ptsd Symptoms In Children
In children especially very young children the symptoms of PTSD can differ from those of adults and may include:
- Fear of being separated from their parent.
- Losing previously-acquired skills .
- Sleep problems and nightmares.
- Somber, compulsive play in which themes or aspects of the trauma are repeated.
- New phobias and anxieties that seem unrelated to the trauma .
- Acting out the trauma through play, stories, or drawings.
- Aches and pains with no apparent cause.
- Irritability and aggression.
Do you have PTSD?
If you answer yes to three or more of the questions below, you may have PTSD and its worthwhile to visit a qualified mental health professional.
- Have you witnessed or experienced a traumatic, life- threatening event?
- Did this experience make you feel intensely afraid, horrified, or helpless?
- Do you have trouble getting the event out of your mind?
- Do you startle more easily and feel more irritable or angry than you did before the event?
- Do you go out of your way to avoid activities, people, or thoughts that remind you of the event?
- Do you have more trouble falling asleep or concentrating than you did before the event?
- Have your symptoms lasted for more than a month?
- Is your distress making it hard for you to work or function normally?
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Seeking A Ptsd Diagnosis
Treatment can help you recover from PTSD, but only if you get a diagnosis. A mental health professional can evaluate your symptoms and your medical history to determine if you have PTSD and any other mental illnesses or a substance use disorder. There are several conditions with symptoms that overlap, so a differential diagnosis by an experienced professional is essential.
The diagnosis is also crucial in determining if you have co-occurring disorders. If you do have PTSD you are at a greater risk of also having a mood disorder, like depression, or of developing a substance use disorder. The most effective way to treat co-occurring conditions is together, with an integrated approach.
What Ptsd Is Not: Debunking The Myths
Due to the popularity of the term PTSD in our popular culture, its easy to develop misconceptions about issues around post-traumatic stress. Some of the most common myths are:
- PTSD is not real it is all in your head
- PTSD is a sign of mental weakness or fragility
- Everyone with PTSD is violent or will become violent
- PTSD will go away on its own eventually so medical help is not needed
- PTSD happens immediately after experiencing trauma
- People with PTSD are dangerous
- People with PTSD should be able to move on and get over it
- PTSD is not treatable
- Any life event can be considered traumatic
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