8 Tips for Dealing With PTSD

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a severe anxiety disorder brought on by a traumatic or life-threatening event. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reports that for every 100 Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, 11 to 20 suffer from PTSD. Symptoms of PTSD include jumpiness, irritability, trouble sleeping, sudden anger, reliving traumatic events through flashbacks, and abusive behavior. Below are eight methods for dealing with PTSD. Two or more may be used in combination to address this disorder. For more information, check out the links below or visit the website for the National Center for PTSD.

  1. Avoid drugs and alcohol:

    The mood-altering effects of alcohol and drugs may provide temporary relief from symptoms of PTSD, or intensify them to the point where one has little or no self-control. Alone or in combination, alcohol and drugs not only have the potential to wreck havoc on your body and personal relationships, they can interfere with treatments for your PTSD.

  2. Exercise:

    The mental health benefits of exercise such as jogging, swimming, and weight lifting are well documented. Moderate exercise can provide a distraction from difficult emotions brought on by PTSD but more importantly, the combination of deep breathing and the natural chemicals released by the body while exercising significantly reduces stress. And speaking of breathing, a form of breathing yoga called Laughter Yoga has also proved effective in the treatment of PTSD.

  3. Group Therapy:

    In group therapy, people get together to share and discuss the trauma they’ve experienced. Members of the group gradually become more comfortable sharing the details of past painful events and as a result discover helpful ways to cope with fear, anger, and guilt.

  4. Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT):

    Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) is an effective form of therapy for the treatment of PTSD. CPT identifies recurring and unhelpful thoughts such as, “This was my fault. I should have known this would happen,” and transforms them into statements that are more accurate and based less on shame and guilt (e.g. “This wasn’t my fault. I could not have known this would happen.”).

  5. Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PE):

    In Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PE), PTSD survivors become less fearful and gain more control of how they react to past traumatic experiences by revisiting those experiences in a controlled environment. Over the course of revisiting these events, the body and mind are gradually conditioned to react with decreasing levels of stress.

  6. Volunteer:

    Volunteer work can help a person suffering from PTSD reconnect with their community and in the process discover that they have something valuable to offer others. Volunteering to help young people, seniors, as well as other PTSD survivors is another healthy way to deal with anxiety, build new relationships, and discover potential opportunities for paid work.

  7. Focus on your personal relationships:

    After a traumatic event like military combat, and especially after being away from family and friends for an extended period as a result of repeated deployments overseas, you’ll need time and a lot of it to build or rebuild relationships with your family and friends. The closer you can get to connecting to a partner or buddy, the more likely it is you’ll be able to experience feelings of empowerment and joy. Good friends and family will also help monitor and assist you with your recovery.

  8. Medication:

    In some severe instances of PTSD medication may be prescribed including antidepressants such as the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) Celexa, Prozac, or Zoloft. However, these medications can be harmful if not closely monitored by a doctor, and self-medication is never a good idea. Before taking any kind of medication for PTSD, talk to a doctor, and consider using medication in combination with other drug-free methods of treatment.