Accept That Sleeping Problems Are A Normal Part Of Ptsd
If you have suffered chronic or severe trauma, possibly involving other problems such as chronic pain, your sleep is bound to be affected because your nervous system is in a constant state of stress. You may find that your sleep routine is erratic, punctuated by nightmares and night-waking and non-restful sleep. This is normal – it’s just your nervous system doing what it is designed to do – stay alert and protect you. Don’t get upset with yourself for not being able to sleep normally. Don’t force yourself to sleep normally.
How Does Ptsd Affect Sleep
Individuals with PTSD frequently have trouble falling asleep and awaken easily, often waking up many times throughout the night. Many people with PTSD also have nightmares. These issues result in disrupted, non-refreshing sleep.
Those with chronic pain, substance abuse, traumatic brain injury, , or other medical problems face an additional barrier to getting quality sleep. Certain sleep medications also interfere with REM sleep, which is the sleep stage during which we dream and an important sleep stage for dealing with traumatic memories.
The most common sleep problems in PTSD can be summed up in three categories:
Treating PTSD-related sleep problems, as well as co-existing disorders such as depression, is an important part of resolving overall PTSD symptoms.
Deciding Between Possible Ptsd Solutions
Deciding between possible PTSD solutions isn’t too difficult once you know which methods have worked for so many other suffering from PTSD. Medication and cognitive behavioral therapy work best for most trauma victims. Exposure therapy is particularly helpful. With this type of therapy, the victim is exposed to a fear gradually and in a safe environment.
Medication options will need to be discussed with the practitioner. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are a type of antidepressant medication. These medications help alleviate feelings of sadness and worry, and they’re effective in the treatment of PTSD. Sertraline and paroxetine , both antidepressants, are SSRIs approved for use as post-traumatic stress disorder medications. Other possible options for antidepressants are fluoxetine and citalopram . The side effects of these medications, which usually subside after a short time, include:
- Agitation or a jittery feeling
- Problems having or enjoying sex
- Dry mouth
A doctor might prescribe additional medications, especially if comorbid disorders are present. People who suffer from PTSD often have pre-existing disorders. Many times, the previous condition isn’t discovered or doesn’t manifest until patients are treated for PTSD.
Change Your Bedtime Routine
A bedtime routine is so important to stop PTSD nightmares. Before bed, try to do relaxing activities. The greatest savior at relaxation for me has been lavender scented products. When I shower I always use lavender scented shampoo, conditioner, and soap. Lavender is known to be a relaxing scent. You can also buy candles, essential oils, and air freshener in the scent.
Avoid watching stimulating shows at all. Say goodbye to any horror, gory, or triggering television shows. You might find shows and movies that you once loved now trigger you. Instead, focus on reading books before bed. I like reading books about meditation, astronomy, and business. The topics are not triggering but they help you learn something new. There are likely topics that you can learn more about that can help distract you from thinking about the trauma. Try not to get lost in thought while you read. That happens to me sometimes. I have to keep reminding myself to bring my attention back to the text. So if it happens to you, that’s normal. PTSD is a bit distracting.
Do What Your Body Tells You To Do
People who’ve never had PTSD will often tell you not to do certain things because “you’ll make it worse.” “It’s all in your head,” they say. And of course, that’s not reassuring because it all feels so real.
There will be times you’ll go through ridiculous lengths to reduce stress, feel safe, and minimize your emotions. A trained professional may tell you that you’ll make things worse by doing those things. But as a person who has been through it, doing those weird things like giving up sex and alcohol for a year, cutting out certain people from my life, or sleeping in a place I felt safe was really important for the healing process. And in a year and a half, I was able to go back to having a normal life. It simply became just one chapter of my life story.
Remember that things little things you do to feel safe or sane help you cope with the trauma. It may seem strange to another person. But you know why you’re doing it. You likely won’t regret the decisions you make. Of course, don’t hurt yourself or anyone. But if you need to make slight modifications about who you hang out with or where you sleep, it’s okay.
Eventually, by taking care of your mental health and wellbeing, the nightmares do decrease. So take the steps that you feel you need to do even if others don’t understand. But don’t do anything illegal or dangerous. Trust me on that one!
Ptsd Trauma Treatment In Ambler Pa
Overcoming PTSD is not a solo project. Everyone working to reclaim their lives after a trauma needs help. At Lime Tree Counseling, our therapists are experts in trauma therapy. We can help you learn to sleep better as well as find relief from other PTSD symptoms such as flashbacks, isolating yourself, sexual concerns, and lack of trust in others. Contact us to schedule your initial appointment, and start your healing journey today.
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Are Sleep Problems A Symptom Of Ptsd
changes the brain, and these changes can also affect sleep. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual lists sleep disturbances—such as , frequent waking, or —as one of many potential symptoms of . Specifically, to be diagnosed with PTSD, a person must show at least two of six “alterations in arousal and activity.” Those changes include:
- A heightened startle response
For some people, other symptoms of arousal play a role in sleep problems. For instance, a person who is and hypervigilant may be too afraid to fall asleep, while a person with a heightened startle response may startle awake at every sound as they drift off to sleep. This change in sleep can also exacerbate other PTSD symptoms. A chronically exhausted person may be more irritable or have greater difficulty concentrating.
Some research suggests that sleep problems are more than just a symptom of PTSD. Instead, they may be a core component of the diagnosis. Research published in 1989 suggests that disturbances in rapid eye movement sleep are a PTSD hallmark that play a key role in other PTSD symptoms. Subsequent research has yielded mixed results. While some studies, including of animals, find a pattern of REM disturbances associated with PTSD, others do not.
Do Not Defend Her Attacker
I have been offered alternative explanations for what happened to me. “There are two sides to every story,” they say, “and he might see it differently.” Do not do this. Trauma is not some choose-your-own-adventure book where you choose to see your bodily autonomy one way while your attacker gets to pick another. As survivors, we have our feelings invalidated and experiences questioned constantly — and when that skepticism comes from someone we love, particularly during a panic attack or after a horrible night terror, it can be devastating.
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 don’t 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.
Learning To Cope With Ptsd
You must not get so wrapped up in your loved one’s disorder that you neglect yourself. Don’t feel guilty for not having all the answers; no one does. Remind yourself that you can’t speed up the process of recovery as these things always take time. Make time for your family and remember all the good things in your life. Learning to cope with PTSD is equally important for your well-being. Keep in mind that in a given year, approximately 5.2 million people suffer from PTSD. That means almost as many caregivers are dealing were with the disorder. You and your loved one aren’t alone.
Talk to your family about concerns you might have. You need their support. Learn methods of relaxation, like meditation or yoga, that can help you take a break. Use positive activities as a distraction. Make an effort to spend time with people who aren’t connected to your loved one’s trauma. Don’t allow yourself to be suffocated by the PTSD.
How Can You Help Someone With Ptsd
Post-traumatic stress disorder is an often crippling condition that affects a significant portion of our society. According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, nearly six of every 10 men and five of every 10 women will experience at least a single trauma in their lives. Women are more likely to experience child sexual abuse or sexual assault than men. In contrast, men are more likely to experience combat disasters, physical assault, experience accidents, or witness severe injury or death.
When it comes to PTSD, you should never look at it as a sign of weakness. Several factors can increase the odds someone will develop PTSD, which are out of a person’s control. If you were directly exposed to a severe injury or trauma, your chances are elevated of developing PTSD.
In a given year, an estimated 8 million adults will deal with PTSD, while seven or eight out of every 100 people will experience PTSD at some point in their lives. If you know someone who is struggling with the condition, you might wonder how you can help them. Below, we’ll explain how you can help someone with PTSD step-by-step.
How To Diagnose Ptsd
The first step in diagnosing trauma is making an appointment with a doctor, preferably someone trained in mental health disorders. The doctor will talk with the patient to determine their state of mind. The practitioner will have to determine whether the prerequisite symptoms for PTSD are present before deciding how to proceed. For a diagnosis of PTSD, the patient must have experienced the following for at least one month:
- At least one event in which they re-experience symptoms
- At least three avoidance symptoms
- At least two hyperarousal symptoms
- Symptoms that interfere with daily life activities
How Sleep Problems Relate To Ptsd
Sleep is tied to memory. It helps pull together and make sense of memories—specifically emotional memories—and fits new memories into existing ones. So among other things, a person needs sleep in order to sort out and process a traumatic event.
Sleep is also important for learning. And one important step in recovering from a trauma is to learn reminders of a traumatic event are not dangerous and you can feel safe again. So it makes sense that reduced quality of sleep is a risk factor for PTSD.
However, research results regarding the relationship between PTSD and sleep problems are inconsistent: While some studies have shown improvement in PTSD symptoms after insomnia treatment, other studies have found the opposite: Treatment for insomnia doesn’t necessarily result in PTSD improvement. It’s unclear at this point whether effective treatment for sleep problems also can address PTSD symptoms.
Deal With Anger And Volatility
PTSD often leads to challenges when managing impulses and emotions, which might manifest in your loved one as moodiness, extreme irritability, or explosions of rage. A person dealing with PTSD lives in a constant state of emotional and physical stress. Since they experience sleep troubles like , it means they’re constantly on edge and exhausted, increasing the likelihood they’ll overreact to daily stressors.
For many of those with PTSD, anger might also be a mask for other feelings like helplessness, guilt, or grief. Anger allows them to feel powerful instead of vulnerable and weak. Others might suppress their anger until it erupts at a time you least expect. You should watch for signs that your loved one is angry and try to remain calm. Try giving them personal space and ask how you can help. Anger is a healthy emotion, but chronic anger spirals can have adverse consequences.
Speak With A Psychotherapist
Getting help from a trained professional can be a game-changer. But finding the right psychotherapist can be difficult. I had to fire the first psychotherapist I saw. After one appointment I left the office feeling more scared than before I had entered. Avoid going to free services because they often don’t attract the best psychotherapists.
I found the best person to help me by getting admitted to the hospital and being referred to the hospital’s sexual assault unit. The psychotherapist in that division was hired by the hospital. Her role involved going to court with survivors, helping survivors through their trauma, using CBT therapy and various other techniques to help survivors deal with their trauma.
At the time, I couldn’t afford a psychotherapist, I was a student and I had just gotten fired from my job. So I was able to fill out a form that allowed me to see her for free. But she did have a fee for other patients. Keep in mind that Canada does have free healthcare. However, they may be affordable services if you don’t have the budget to get professional help for your PTSD nightmares.
The Connection Between Ptsd And Sleep Problems
Service Members can develop PTSD after experiencing a traumatic event, such as witnessing a death, exposure to violence, or being assaulted. Sleep problems, particularly insomnia, are among the most common symptoms after a trauma and are reported by 70% of people with PTSD. Sleep problems also are among the complaints clinicians use to diagnose PTSD. Other symptoms of PTSD include:
- re-experiencing the trauma, such as nightmares or flashbacks;
- avoidance of reminders of the trauma, which often provoke a ‘danger’ response;
- negative mood or thoughts, such as guilt or self-blame; and
- increased physical arousal, such as feeling irritable or having trouble concentrating.
PTSD seems to disrupt sleep by increasing the duration of light sleep; decreasing the duration of deep, restorative sleep; and interfering with rapid eye movement sleep, the stage of sleep linked to dreaming and nightmares. This often results in insomnia—difficulty falling and staying asleep—and daytime fatigue. Unfortunately, even after effective treatment for PTSD, sleep problems still linger for half the people who initially experienced them.
Common Internal Ptsd Triggers
- Physical discomfort, such as hunger, thirst, fatigue, sickness, and sexual frustration.
- Any bodily sensation that recalls the trauma, including pain, old wounds and scars, or a similar injury.
- Strong emotions, especially feeling helpless, out of control, or trapped.
- Feelings toward family members, including mixed feelings of love, vulnerability, and resentment.
Encourage Them To Seek Treatment
It’s beyond your control to make someone seek treatment. If they are ready or are considering treatment, you can encourage them along the way, however.
Research some of the treatment options available for PTSD. Look for treatment providers and programs that specialize in PTSD. Explore the benefits of treatment and, when your friend is ready, share what you come up with.
Treating The Sleep Problems Of Ptsd
It is important to be for both PTSD and the sleep problems it causes. That is because a lack of sleep can make PTSD symptoms worse in the daytime. The sleep problems of PTSD can also make physical pain worse, increase blood pressure, and lead to obesity.1-4
Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia is one of the key non-drug ways to treat the sleep problems of PTSD, especially insomnia. CBT-I basically teaches someone about healthy sleep habits and coaches them on ways to deal with nightmares. It also includes relaxation exercises and positive self-talk. People with PTSD and sleep apnea are treated with a CPAP machine.1-4,9
Living With Someone Who Has Ptsd
It’s hard not to take the symptoms of PTSD personally, but it’s important to remember that a person with PTSD may not always have control over their behavior. Your loved one’s nervous system is “stuck” in a state of constant alert, making them continually feel vulnerable and unsafe, or having to relive the traumatic experience over and over. This can lead to anger, irritability, depression, mistrust, and other PTSD symptoms that your loved one can’t simply choose to turn off.
With the right support from you and other family and friends, though, your loved one’s nervous system can become “unstuck.” With these tips, you can help them to finally move on from the traumatic event and enable your life together to return to normal.
Tip 7: Take Care Of Yourself
Letting your family member’s PTSD dominate your life while ignoring your own needs is a surefire recipe for burnout and may even lead to secondary traumatization. You can develop your own trauma symptoms from listening to trauma stories or being exposed to disturbing symptoms like flashbacks. The more depleted and overwhelmed you feel, the greater the risk is that you’ll become traumatized.
In order to have the strength to be there for your loved one over the long haul and lower your risk for secondary traumatization, you have to nurture and care for yourself.
Take care of your physical needs: get enough sleep, exercise regularly, eat properly, and look after any medical issues.
Cultivate your own support system. Lean on other family members, trusted friends, your own therapist or support group, or your faith community. Talking about your feelings and what you’re going through can be very cathartic.
Make time for your own life. Don’t give up friends, hobbies, or activities that make you happy. It’s important to have things in your life that you look forward to.
Set boundaries. Be realistic about what you’re capable of giving. Know your limits, communicate them to your family member and others involved, and stick to them.
Support for people taking care of veterans
If the person you’re caring for is a military veteran, read PTSD in Military Veterans. To find financial and caregiving support:
Get more help
Hotlines and support resources
– Support and resources in Australia.
When To See A Doctor
Many people experience symptoms after a traumatic event, such as crying, anxiety, and difficulty concentrating, but this is not necessarily PTSD.
Prompt treatment with a qualified professional can help prevent the symptoms from getting worse.
This should be considered if:
- symptoms persist for more than a month
- symptoms are severe enough to prevent the person returning to normal life
- the person considers harming themselves
Treatment usually involves psychotherapy and counseling, medication, or a combination.
Options for psychotherapy will be specially tailored for managing trauma.
Cognitive processing therapy : Also known as cognitive restructuring, the individual learns how to think about things in a new way. Mental imagery of the traumatic event may help them work through the trauma, to gain control of the fear and distress.
Exposure therapy: Talking repeatedly about the event or confronting the cause of the fear in a safe and controlled environment may help the person feel they have more control over their thoughts and feelings. The effectiveness of this treatment has been questioned, however, and it must be carried out with care, or there may be a risk of worsening of the symptoms.
Sleep Deprivation With Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
Sleep deprivation is a common complaint among people who experience posttraumatic stress disorder . Research shows that at least 50% of individuals with PTSD have experienced recurring nightmares, and the majority of people with PTSD report either difficulty falling asleep , or trouble staying asleep long enough to feel rested . Even though sleep difficulties often accompany PTSD, their importance might be underrepresented. Knowing how to recognize the symptoms of sleep deprivation and how to manage them are useful tools in treating the symptoms of PTSD.
The Do’s And Dont’s Of Loving Someone With Ptsd
Post-traumatic stress disorder is complicated, at times difficult to understand and undoubtedly looks shockingly different for everyone. Some symptoms depend on the nature of the trauma; a sexual assault/abuse survivor might be afraid of touch, whereas a combat survivor might be afraid of loud noises. There are some commonalities for most people with PTSD though, and taking the time to understand someone you love with this disorder can help a lot.
Do take the time to understand their triggers and symptoms.
About a month ago, one of my friends asked very gentle questions about what certain symptoms feel like to me and what causes them. This is a safe person that I trust and he gave me full permission to not answer anything I was uncomfortable with. Being able to share with someone what certain things feel like makes me feel so much less alone in my struggles.
Don’t pressure the person to talk about things they’re uncomfortable with.
I will admit this is more of a “human rule” than a “PTSD rule,” but bear in mind that talking about trauma can trigger PTSD symptoms. If we’re talking about things that are hard or I look uncomfortable answering a question, feel free to remind me I don’t have to answer. Sometimes this can help me trust you more.
Do offer to listen to what he/she wants to say.
Don’t offer platitudes.
Do ask someone if they want to be touched.
Don’t intentionally startle them.
Do ask what you can do to help.
Don’t take it personally when I cancel plans.
Ptsd And The Importance Of Therapy
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a serious mental illness triggered by experiences that are terrifying, life-threatening, or perceived as life-threatening. Potential causes of PTSD include being a victim of assault, witnessing violence, being in a terrible accident, or seeing combat in the military.
Not everyone develops PTSD after a traumatic experience, but those who do struggle with disruptive, frightening, and difficult including:
- Intrusive and scary memories
- Irritability and angry outbursts
- Difficulty concentrating
Because this mental illness is so disruptive to a normal, satisfying life, professional treatment is essential. is the foundation of treatment, which teaches patients to change their negative thoughts, cope with difficult memories, and relate better to other people. There are several types of therapy with a trauma focus that can be very helpful for managing and reducing symptoms.
Where To Find Ptsd Treatment For A Friend Or Family Member
You can contact hospitals in your area or your doctor for advice. Check with local mental health facilities or support groups that can also supply you with information. University medical centers are good resources.
We’re here 24/7 to help you. Please, don’t hesitate to contact us at . Right now, it’s not too late to stop your loved one’s from progressing; call now.