Today, in America, is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder awareness day and although it isn’t one of our national days in the UK, the charity MIND make reference to it. Coping with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be a challenging and deeply personal journey. In this blog I give some general guidance. However, it is always recommended to seek professional help from a therapist or counsellor who specialises in treating PTSD. Here are some coping strategies that may be helpful:
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT is a widely recognised and effective therapy for PTSD. It focuses on identifying and challenging negative thought patterns and beliefs related to the traumatic event. Through CBT, you can learn to reframe your thoughts, develop healthier coping strategies, and gradually confront and process the traumatic memories.
Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR): EMDR is a specialised therapy often used for treating PTSD. It involves recalling distressing memories while simultaneously engaging in bilateral stimulation, such as eye movements, sounds, or tactile sensations. This technique helps reprocess traumatic memories, reducing their emotional intensity and associated distress.
Exposure Therapy: Exposure therapy involves gradually and safely exposing yourself to the situations, memories, or triggers that cause distress. This process allows you to face and process the traumatic memories in a controlled environment, helping to reduce fear and anxiety over time.
Medication: In some cases, medication may be prescribed to help manage symptoms of PTSD. Antidepressants, particularly selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs), are commonly used to alleviate symptoms such as depression, anxiety, and intrusive thoughts. It's important to consult with a healthcare professional to determine if medication is appropriate for your situation. Please note, self-medicating is NOT advised!
Grounding Techniques: Grounding techniques help you stay present and connected to the present moment, which can be particularly helpful during times of distress or when experiencing flashbacks or intrusive thoughts. Techniques may include focusing on your senses (e.g., touch, taste, smell), engaging in deep breathing exercises, or naming objects in your immediate environment.
Journaling: Writing about your thoughts, feelings, and experiences can be a helpful way to process emotions and gain insights into your recovery journey. You can use a journal to express yourself, track progress, identify triggers, and explore patterns or triggers that contribute to your symptoms.
Social Support: Building a strong support network is crucial for coping with PTSD. Share your experiences and feelings with trusted friends or family members who can provide a listening ear and emotional support. Consider joining a support group specifically for individuals with PTSD to connect with others who understand your experiences.
Trauma-Informed Yoga or Exercise: Engaging in gentle physical activities, such as yoga or other forms of exercise, can be beneficial for managing symptoms of PTSD. Trauma-informed yoga, in particular, focuses on creating a safe and non-triggering environment while incorporating mindful movement and relaxation techniques.
Self-Compassion: Be kind and patient with yourself throughout the recovery process. Understand that healing takes time, and it's normal to have good and bad days. Practice self-compassion by treating yourself with understanding, forgiveness, and acceptance.
It's important to work with a qualified mental health professional who can provide individualised guidance and support as you navigate your journey of healing and coping with PTSD. Everyone's experience with PTSD is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another. It's essential to find coping strategies and treatment options that are tailored to your specific needs.