Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, is a mental health condition characterized by either witnessing or experiencing a terrifying life event. Common symptoms include nightmares, severe anxiety, flashbacks, and obsessive or uncontrollable thoughts. These symptoms may occur immediately after the event, or they may not develop until years later. There are four types of PTSD, including intrusive memories, avoidance, adverse changes in mood and thought, and emotional reactions and physical changes. Events commonly associated with PTSD are military or combat exposure, sexual violence, physical assault, childhood abuse or environmental factors such as weather-related events or a fire.
10. Therapy Treatment
Anyone dealing with PTSD should seek help from a trained medical professional right away to control symptoms. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing is a type of cognitive therapy that can be used to treat symptoms by asking the person affected to focus on a moving finger to help guide them through trauma. Behavioral behaviorists can assist in adjusting trauma-filled thoughts and guide the person affected by developing alternative interpretations and engaging in a new way of responding to negative or overwhelming feelings.
Medications are available and should be prescribed by a health professional only. Serotonergic antidepressants may include fluoxetine, sertraline, and paroxetine. Drugs that help decrease physical symptoms may include prazosin, clonidine, guanfacine, and propranolol. Research indicates that patients who take an antidepressant for at least a year are less likely to develop a relapse. Antidepressants are also the only group of medications that have been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration for PTSD treatment. Mood stabilizers and antipsychotic medications are also available, especially for patients who experience paranoia.
8. Follow The Treatment Plan
Following the treatment plan assigned by a mental health professional is the best way to seek relief of PTSD symptoms. Remember that a trained professional has been educated on how to handle traumatic disorders and any treatment plan provided is better than trying to self-medicate at home. Following the advice of a health professional, even if it takes awhile to see improvements, is the best way to stay on track. Routinely schedule times to talk with a therapist and work on techniques designed to help deal with flashbacks, paranoia, or depressive symptoms.
7. Get Healthy
Eating right, exercising regularly, and getting plenty of sleep at night are an important part of being able to respond to and develop coping techniques needed to beat PTSD. Lack of sleep and exercise coupled with a diet high in inflammatory foods may contribute to anxiety or feelings of restlessness. Try going to sleep an hour or two earlier at night and wake up early to fit in some exercise before starting the day. Sit down to eat a healthy breakfast and spend some time collecting thoughts or going over mental activities before heading out for the day.
6. Avoid Self-Medication
Self-medication can be a destructive way to cope with PTSD that only causes more problems. Avoid drinking or turning to drug use to get through hard times as these will create dependency problems and more anxiety. Most temporary forms of relief are not recommended as part of a treatment plan. Alcohol is a depressant, meaning that it interferes with a neurotransmitter called serotonin, which is responsible for feelings of happiness. Drugs and alcohol can also interfere with PTSD medications.
5. Stay Connected To People
Staying connected to loved ones is a good way to get through tough situations. Avoid being alone if needed and invite a friend or loved one to stay over until medical treatment starts to kick in. Or schedule weekly meetings with friends at a coffee shop or someplace where it is easy to talk. Recovering from PTSD is a good time to invite friends to try new hobbies. Join a softball team, a book reading club, or a bowling league to stay connected with society and avoid being alone with potentially dangerous thoughts.
4. Join A Support Group
PTSD support groups are available to help connect people with similar symptoms. Sometimes it helps to be surrounded by individuals who have been through a similar situation. Talking with others about coping mechanisms and how they deal with hard times may assist in creating new strategies to add to a current treatment plan. A medical health professional should be able to provide a list of support groups. Many veterans associations may also be able to help or search for support groups in an online directory.
3. Learn About PTSD
Understanding PTSD is a good way to beat it. Visit the library or bookstores and read books that discuss PTSD and different ways for coping. Understanding the condition and why it happens might be the solution needed to reduce symptoms. Take loved ones to attend seminars or public events that support people with PTSD to educate them on the condition. PTSD awareness and free consultations might be available online or within the community. Go online to find out or contact a nearby community development program for opportunities.
2. Alternative Medication
Some side effects of mental health medications prescribed by a health professional may include vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, weight gain, drowsiness, sedation, constipation, and dry mouth. Herbal treatments are available to help reduce anxiety and depressive thoughts, and they may be less likely to cause side effects. Feverfew and butterbur can be used to treat migraines associated with PTSD. Drinking the following teas may be able to contribute to reducing anxiety and stress: peppermint, turmeric, ginger, Ashwagandha, Kava Kava, Chamomile, passion flower, lemon balm, and rose tea. These herbs can also be taken in supplement form.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, taking a multivitamin with vitamins A, C, D, E, B-vitamins, and the trace minerals calcium, zinc, selenium, magnesium, and selenium may help. Omega 3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation, improve brain health, and support the nervous system. Melatonin is a hormone that can be taken at night to assist with falling asleep and staying asleep. Coenzyme Q10 can be taken for immune boosting antioxidant support. Be sure to talk with a physician before taking herbal treatment as these may interfere with some medications.