Why Do Some People Develop Ptsd And Other People Do Not
Not everyone who lives through a dangerous event develops PTSDmany factors play a part. Some of these factors are present before the trauma others become important during and after a traumatic event.
Risk factors that may increase the likelihood of developing of PTSD include:
- Exposure to dangerous events or traumas
- Getting hurt or seeing people hurt or killed
- Childhood trauma
- Feeling horror, helplessness, or extreme fear
- Having little or no social support after the event
- Dealing with extra stress after the event, such as loss of a loved one, pain and injury, or loss of a job or home
- Having a personal history or family history of mental illness or substance use
Resilience factors that may reduce the likelihood of developing PTSD include:
- Seeking out support from friends, family, or support groups
- Learning to feel okay with ones actions in response to a traumatic event
- Having a coping strategy for getting through and learning from a traumatic event
- Being prepared and able to respond to upsetting events as they occur, despite feeling fear
Have A Safety Plan In Place
Although it is important to increase your awareness of your triggers, doing so can cause some distress. Some people might actually become triggered by trying to identify their triggers. Therefore, before you take steps to identify your triggers, make sure you have a safety plan in place in case you experience some distress.
What Can I Do To Help Myself
It is important to know that, although it may take some time, you can get better with treatment. Here are some things you can do to help yourself:
- Talk with your health care provider about treatment options, and follow your treatment plan.
- Engage in exercise, mindfulness, or other activities that help reduce stress.
- Try to maintain routines for meals, exercise, and sleep.
- Set realistic goals and do what you can as you are able.
- Spend time with trusted friends or relatives, and tell them about things that may trigger symptoms.
- Expect your symptoms to improve gradually, not immediately.
- Avoid use of alcohol or drugs.
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How To Avoid The Triggers Of Ptsd
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder plays a significant role in substance abuse. Often, those who suffer will self-medicate to deal with the symptoms they may experience. Learning to avoid PTSD triggers will help sufferers proactively deal with their past trauma and avoid turning to substances for relief.
Tip : Take Care Of Yourself
Letting your family members 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 youll 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 youre going through can be very cathartic.
Make time for your own life. Dont give up friends, hobbies, or activities that make you happy. Its important to have things in your life that you look forward to.
Spread the responsibility. Ask other family members and friends for assistance so you can take a break. You may also want to seek out respite services in your community.
Set boundaries. Be realistic about what youre 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
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When My Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Gets Triggered
There are many things that can trigger my posttraumatic stress disorder . Over the years, I have learned to adapt pretty well to living with posttraumatic stress disorder. But certain situations or settings can trigger, which means to cause an onset of, the anxiety of my PTSD, taking me back to a time when I wasnt safe and my life was in danger. I will become hypervigilant, begin to dissociate, and feel extreme anxiety. Ive learned to watch for those situations, and to find effective coping mechanisms that reduce my anxiety when my PTSD gets triggered.
How Can You Recognize Triggers
Some are obvious. Others are subtle. In fact, you may not realize something is a trigger until you have a reaction. It may seem like your PTSD symptoms come out of the blue. But theyâre usually caused by an unknown trigger.
Feeling as if youâre in danger is a sign that youâve experienced a PTSD trigger. A therapist can help you identify yours. They can also help you learn ways to cope.
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The Science Behind Ptsd
When someone goes through something traumatic, their body goes into fight, flight, or freeze mode. The nervous system is hard-wired to do this, as it tries to keep us from danger. The brain will create a hormonal cocktail that will cause us to either fight off an attack, run for our safety, or we just freeze.
For example, if you see a bear pop out from behind a tree while youre walking in the woods, your brain goes into action. Your heart rate increases. You become highly sensitive to your surroundings. Your brain puts you into the state of flight, fight, or freeze mode. Youre standing there, and within seconds youve got to decide what to do. Run? Fight? Stand still?
Regardless of what you do, that can be a traumatic experience, and your brain remembers incidents like that. If you choose to run away, within 30 minutes, your heart rate is back to normal, and you feel safe again. Your nervous system calms down.
Thats the way the brain functions.
However, with PTSD, your brain doesnt forget that event very easily. Yes, the experience was traumatic at that moment. Now change the scenario: Youre in a sporting goods store a few months later, and theyve got a taxidermied bear standing on two legs. You see that bear, and suddenly, you go into panic mode. Your heart rate increases and youre in fight, flight, or freeze mode again even though rationally you know that the dead, stuffed bear cant hurt you.
Identifying And Recognizing Ptsd Triggers
Identifying PTSD triggers is not always obvious someone with PTSD might not be aware of what sets them off or provokes their feelings of fear or anger. This is particularly true with sensory triggers like smells, colors, tastes or touch. Recognizing triggers may require a combination of talk therapy, or observation by a psychiatrist to examine parts of the environment that provoke an emotional response.
Recognizing PTSD triggers when they occur can be different for different people. While some people may be fearful or avoidant, others may be angry, aggressive or panicked. While some people may be able to recognize these behaviors in themselves, others may not. In these cases, healthcare professionals and family and friends may be needed to help to identify triggers.
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Tip : Support Treatment
Despite the importance of your love and support, it isnt always enough. Many people who have been traumatized need professional PTSD therapy. But bringing it up can be touchy. Think about how youd feel if someone suggested that you needed therapy.
Wait for the right time to raise your concerns. Dont bring it up when youre arguing or in the middle of a crisis. Also, be careful with your language. Avoid anything that implies that your loved one is crazy. Frame it in a positive, practical light: treatment is a way to learn new skills that can be used to handle a wide variety of PTSD-related challenges.
Emphasize the benefits. For example, therapy can help them become more independent and in control. Or it can help reduce the anxiety and avoidance that is keeping them from doing the things they want to do.
Focus on specific problems. If your loved one shuts down when you talk about PTSD or counseling, focus instead on how treatment can help with specific issues like anger management, anxiety, or concentration and memory problems.
Acknowledge the hassles and limitations of therapy. For example, you could say, I know that therapy isnt a quick or magical cure, and it may take a while to find the right therapist. But even if it helps a little, it will be worth it.
Encourage your loved one to join a support group. Getting involved with others who have gone through similar traumatic experiences can help some people with PTSD feel less damaged and alone.
Write Down What Happened
As Brene Brown writes in her book Rising Strong, write the shitty first draft. Just let your mind download the first response beliefs and thoughts on to the paper. The content of the writing is not as important as the emotional release it brings.
When you download all the emotions and you feel calmer, your prefrontal lobe will re-engage and you will be able to think again rationally.
Stan Tatkin, founder of the Psychobiological Couples Therapy, uses these simple terms when triggered. The “primitives” in your brain take over they are running around causing havoc while the “ambassadors” of reason are locked out.
It’s not until your body calms down that the ambassadors can enter your brain again and bring reason and thought to your actions.
As an adult, the ambassadors can help you make the next right choice for you and your relationships. This goes along with the saying “Think before you act” which helps us grow and mature into adults instead of reactive bitty kids. The primitives usually react the way you did when you were surviving in childhood.
As an adult, these younger ways of responding probably dont work well for you now. Allowing the primitives to take control of you doesn’t work well in relationships and can make things a whole lot worse for you.
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What Are Trigger Warnings
A trigger warning is a notice of potential triggers in future discussion or content. The aim is to let people with mental health concerns avoid or prepare themselves for triggers. It is impossible to predict or avoid all triggers, since many are unique to a persons situation. Warnings are often reserved for common triggers such as images of violence.
Recently, many students have requested trigger warnings in school. There has been much public debate over whether this practice is appropriate for classrooms.
Opponents of trigger warnings often argue these warnings cater to overly sensitive students. Some claim trigger warnings promote censorship. Others believe they infringe upon teachers ability to teach course material.
Advocates often argue trigger warnings are necessary for equal access to education. Triggers can cause flashbacks and panic attacks which disrupt learning. According to the American Psychological Association , triggers are often more distressing if they come as a surprise. Advocates say trigger warnings allow students with posttraumatic stress to feel safe in class.
If a student says they have PTSD, personalized trigger warnings are appropriate. There is little research on the effectiveness of classroom trigger warnings. The APA says specific triggers can be hard to predict. Thus, generic warnings on classroom content may be less effective. If a student says they have PTSD, personalized trigger warnings are appropriate.
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Tip : Reach Out To Others For Support
PTSD can make you feel disconnected from others. You may be tempted to withdraw from social activities and your loved ones. But its important to stay connected to life and the people who care about you. You dont have to talk about the trauma if you dont want to, but the caring support and companionship of others is vital to your recovery. Reach out to someone you can connect with for an uninterrupted period of time, someone who will listen when you want to talk without judging, criticizing, or continually getting distracted. That person may be your significant other, a family member, a friend, or a professional therapist. Or you could try:
Volunteering your time or reaching out to a friend in need. This is not only a great way to connect to others, but can also help you reclaim your sense of control.
Joining a PTSD support group. This can help you feel less isolated and alone and also provide invaluable information on how to cope with symptoms and work towards recovery.
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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.
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Ptsd Recovery: How To Cope With Triggers
It can be frustrating learning how to cope with triggers from posttraumatic stress disorder . Triggers seem to be all around, yet it often feels like they have come out of the blue when they hit. Because so many different things have the potential to be a PTSD trigger, it may seem like an impossible task to prepare for them before they occur . The good news is, there are some effective coping strategies that can help deal with triggers during PTSD recovery when they do come up.
Rape Or Sexual Trauma
The trauma of being raped or sexually assaulted can be shattering, leaving you feeling scared, ashamed, and alone, or plagued by nightmares, flashbacks, and other unpleasant memories. But no matter how bad you feel right now, its important to remember that you werent to blame for what happened, and you can regain your sense of safety, trust, and self-worth.
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How Can Veterans Cope When Current Events Cause Distress
Below is a list of tips to manage distress for Veterans with or without PTSD. Use them to help you cope when traumatic events affect you.
To help yourself
If you need help
Get help from your doctor or a mental health provider who is skilled in working with survivors of trauma if:
- You are having any symptoms that are causing high levels of distress, problems in relationships, or problems at work.
- You are abusing alcohol or drugs.
- You cannot get relief using the tips listed above.
To help children in your life
If children hear about acts of violence, they look to adults to help them understand and cope with their feelings. Here are some ways you can help:
- Try to respond when they ask questions.
- Safety is a main concern for them. Comfort them and tell them in an age-appropriate way that adults are working hard to help those involved in the situation, and to make sure children will be safe everywhere.
- Be a positive role model for them.
- Show them how you have ways to deal with difficult events together as a family.
To help your community
- Avoid blame as much as possible. Anger and blame toward others have been shown to increase Veterans’ stress symptoms.
- Try to change anger or thoughts of revenge into something positive. You could donate blood, give money to the Red Cross, volunteer, donate to a food bank, or give your support in some other way. Invite others to do the same.
- Try to join together with others, show patience, and help others in times of hardship.
Helping Someone With Ptsd Tip : Provide Social Support
Its common for people with PTSD to withdraw from family and friends. They may feel ashamed, not want to burden others, or believe that other people wont understand what theyre going through. While its important to respect your loved ones boundaries, your comfort and support can help them overcome feelings of helplessness, grief, and despair. In fact, trauma experts believe that face-to-face support from others is the most important factor in PTSD recovery.
Knowing how to best demonstrate your love and support for someone with PTSD isnt always easy. You cant force your loved one to get better, but you can play a major role in the healing process by simply spending time together.
Dont pressure your loved one into talking. It can be very difficult for people with PTSD to talk about their traumatic experiences. For some, it can even make them feel worse. Instead, let them know youre willing to listen when they want to talk, or just hang out when they dont. Comfort for someone with PTSD comes from feeling engaged and accepted by you, not necessarily from talking.
Do normal things with your loved one, things that have nothing to do with PTSD or the traumatic experience. Encourage your loved one to seek out friends, pursue hobbies that bring them pleasure, and participate in rhythmic exercise such as walking, running, swimming, or rock climbing. Take a fitness class together, go dancing, or set a regular lunch date with friends and family.
Need to talk to someone?
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