If you’ve been through a traumatic event, it’s normal to experience some lingering effects like anxiety, difficulty sleeping, or a tendency to replay the event over and over in your mind. But in most cases, these symptoms will decrease over time and you can move on with your life.
However, for people with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), those effects don’t go away. PTSD is a serious mental health problem that can have a significant impact on every aspect of your life. But if you or someone you know is struggling to manage PTSD symptoms, there are ways to overcome it.
What is PTSD?
PTSD is a mental illness that can arise after you’re exposed to a traumatic event. That could include things like:
- Witnessing a death
- Being under threat of death or serious injury
- Events such as car accidents, crimes, conflict, and natural disasters
But PTSD is a complex issue. People deal with trauma in different ways, and no one knows exactly why a traumatic event can cause PTSD in some people but not others.
It’s also not always caused by a single event. In some people, it can arise from the culmination of a number of traumatic experiences.
There are also some risk factors that increase a person’s chances of developing PTSD. They include:
- Family history of PTSD or depression
- Occupations that involve traumatic events, such as police and paramedics
- Previous traumatic experiences, especially early in life
Symptoms of PTSD
Some of the most common symptoms of PTSD include:
- Severe anxiety
- Uncontrollable thoughts about the event
- Vivid nightmares
- Drug and alcohol abuse as a way to cope
If the symptoms seem to arise out of nowhere, you should keep in mind that PTSD symptoms sometimes don’t appear for months or even years after the event occurred.
How is PTSD Treated?
There are support groups for people with PTSD, as well as for those who have a family member or friend affected by it. They can help by providing education, advice, support, companionship, and more. For one, just meeting people who are dealing with similar issues and seeing how they are overcoming them can make dealing with PTSD seem more doable.
Mental Health Therapy
There are mental health programs that will enable you to get help from a professional. Whether that’s a mental health counsellor, psychologist, or psychiatrist, they have the expertise to guide you as you deal with your trauma.
One effective treatment for PTSD is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which teaches you how to control the thoughts and behaviours that contribute to PTSD. This therapy will also help you stop avoiding talking or thinking about the experience, so you can address it and begin to move on.
What to Do When a Loved One has PTSD
If you think a family member or close friend is suffering from PTSD, you may be wondering how you can help. This may be difficult because people with PTSD will sometimes withdraw from loved ones, and they may not want to talk about it.
So here are some tips on what you can do:
- If the person doesn’t want to talk about it, don’t force them. Begin by just letting them know that you’re there for them whenever they’re ready.
- Educate yourself on PTSD so you’ll have a better understanding of what the person may be going through, and the options for treatment.
- Don’t take anything personally. If the person is treating you differently than normal (such as being cold or quick to anger), remind yourself that its part of the illness.
- Remember to take care of yourself too. PTSD can be hard on the family and friends of the affected person. So seek support for your own mental wellness if you feel you need it.
While having some anxiety or sleeplessness is normal after a traumatic experience, getting timely help and support can help prevent it from becoming more serious. So remember that you don’t have to deal with trauma alone, there are many options for support and treatment.