now browsing by tag
Five ways to cope with PTSD
How can you cope with PTSD symptoms? We look at five possible strategies.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is best known as the condition that affects people who have served in the military, and who are therefore most likely to have witnessed a disturbing event on the battlefield.
Yet developing PTSD can be a natural response to any number of distressing experiences, such as sexual abuse, physical assault, accidents, or any type of violence.
Symptoms of PTSD include a heightened state of anxiety — especially accompanied by persistent flashbacks of the traumatic event — sleeplessness, moodiness, and avoidance of places or social situations that might trigger flashbacks.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), 7.7 million adults in the United States live with PTSD, though women are twice as likely as men to develop this condition.
PTSD can last for years, and its symptoms can severely impact overall quality of life. That being the case, it can sometimes be tempting to apply negative coping strategies to deal with symptoms of PTSD.
Negative coping strategies may seem helpful on the spur of the moment, yet they can easily turn self-destructive in the long-term. These can include resorting to alcohol or recreational drugs to numb your feelings, decrease stress, or quieten your thoughts.
Alcohol and other substances may take the edge off to begin with but can cause addiction if used as a substitute for a proper treatment, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which has been recognized as a “safe and effective intervention” for this disorder.
So what are some things you can do, in addition to CBT and any other treatments recommended by your doctor, in order to keep your PTSD symptoms under control? Here are a few approaches you may want to consider.
1. Mindfulness meditation
Increasingly, meditation and mindfulness-based relaxation techniques have been shown to help manage a range of disorders.
A review of mindfulness-based treatments for PTSD points to a few therapies that have been found effective in reducing avoidance and self-blame in people diagnosed with the disorder. These are:
- mindfulness-based stress reduction(MBSR), which is an intensive 8-week program focused on the practice of mindfulness meditation that aims to train people to focus their attention on their breath and learn to avoid getting carried away by intrusive thoughts
- mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), defined as “an adaptation of MBSR,” has a very similar structure but is designed to target depressive moods and negative thoughts, more specifically
- mindfulness-based exposure therapy, which includes a 16-week non-trauma-focused programthat incorporates MBCT techniques and favors safe and controlled exposure to avoided stimuli, focusing on self-compassion training
- meditation-relaxation, such as loving-kindness meditation, was also deemed effective in increasing self-compassion and reducing depressive symptoms related to PTSD
- mantrum repetition practice, which refers to “the silent repeating of a sacred word or phrase,” appears to be effective in targeting anger, hyperarousal, or the state of being constantly on guard, and symptoms of anxiety and depression
2. Regain focus through physical activity
Many people who have been diagnosed with PTSD say that finding an enjoyable physical activity that they can perform regularly has helped them to reduce their levels of stress and cope with their symptoms.
Rebecca Thorne, who was diagnosed with PTSD following childhood trauma, explains how runninghas helped her to cope with the symptoms that were impacting her life.
“I am a runner – and I suffer from [PTSD],” she says. “One of the many things I think about while I’m running, and also when I’m not, is the relationship between the two.”
“I embrace running in all weathers […], always with a considerable amount of ascent. As I fight my way up the climbs, I often imagine that the hill is my illness and I am going to slowly and steadily conquer it. Yet it never feels like suffering and, once at the top of the hill, I can reach out and touch the sky.”
Researchers from Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge in the United Kingdom found that surfingcan be an effective coping strategy for war veterans diagnosed with PTSD.
According to the team, this sport helps veterans to attain a focused mind state known as “flow,” in which they are so absorbed in the activity they are performing that all other thoughts and emotions are pushed aside.
Dr. Nick Caddick, who was involved with the study, compares this with the effects of mindfulness meditation, just that it is more active. He calls it “a moving form of mindfulness.”
Medical News Today also reported on a study that suggested that Tai chi — a form of martial arts — can help war veterans to manage their PTSD symptoms.
Anxiety: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments
Anxiety is a general term for several disorders that cause nervousness, fear, apprehension, and worrying.
These disorders affect how we feel and behave, and they can manifest real physical symptoms. Mild anxiety is vague and unsettling, while severe anxiety can be extremely debilitating, having a serious impact on daily life.
People often experience a general state of worry or fear before confronting something challenging such as a test, examination, recital, or interview. These feelings are easily justified and considered normal. Anxiety is considered a problem when symptoms interfere with a person’s ability to sleep or otherwise function. Generally speaking, anxiety occurs when a reaction is out of proportion with what might be normally expected in a situation.
Anxiety disorders can be classified into several more specific types. The most common are briefly described below.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a chronic disorder characterized by excessive, long-lasting anxiety and worry about nonspecific life events, objects, and situations.
GAD sufferers often feel afraid and worry about health, money, family, work, or school, but they have trouble both identifying the specific fear and controlling the worries. Their fear is usually unrealistic or out of proportion with what may be expected in their situation. Sufferers expect failure and disaster to the point that it interferes with daily functions like work, school, social activities, and relationships.
In this short video from The Psych Network, Dr. Sylvia Gearing discusses Generalized Anxiety Disorder and how it affects sufferers.
Panic Disorder is a type of anxiety characterized by brief or sudden attacks of intense terror and apprehension that leads to shaking, confusion, dizziness, nausea, and difficulty breathing. Panic attacks tend to arise abruptly and peak after 10 minutes, but they then may last for hours. Panic disorders usually occur after frightening experiences or prolonged stress, but they can be spontaneous as well.
A panic attack may lead an individual to be acutely aware of any change in normal body function, interpreting it as a life threatening illness – hypervigiliance followed by hypochondriasis. In addition, panic attacks lead a sufferer to expect future attacks, which may cause drastic behavioral changes in order to avoid these attacks.
A Phobia is an irrational fear and avoidance of an object or situation. Phobias are different from generalized anxiety disorders because a phobia has a fear response identified with a specific cause. The fear may be acknowledged as irrational or unnecessary, but the person is still unable to control the anxiety that results. Stimuli for phobia may be as varied as situations, animals, or everyday objects. For example, agoraphobia occurs when one avoids a place or situation to avoid an anxiety or panic attack. Agoraphobics will situate themselves so that escape will not be difficult or embarrassing, and they will change their behavior to reduce anxiety about being able to escape.
In this short video from HealthGuru, Dr. J. Clive Spiegel M.D. talks about the difference between fear and phobia.
Social Anxiety Disorder
Social Anxiety Disorder is a type of social phobia characterized by a fear of being negatively judged by others or a fear of public embarrassment due to impulsive actions. This includes feelings such as stage fright, a fear of intimacy, and a fear of humiliation. This disorder can cause people to avoid public situations and human contact to the point that normal life is rendered impossible.
Take counseling and therapy support from approved online therapists
Caroline Artley, LCSW-C is among the newest faces on Proventherapy.com, a site that provides a virtual office for individuals to meet professional clinicians to work out their problems.
Press Release: WHITE MARSH, Md. – Feb. 2, 2016 – PRLog — Caroline attended a Christian college to learn how to help people from a faith perspective, then she moved on to public graduate school for in-depth, rigorous instruction on diagnostic formulation and clinical intervention. She credits her undergraduate work with helping her to appreciate the intrinsic value of all people.
Caroline has worked with individuals aged 3-101, as well as the parents, siblings, adult children, and other caregivers involved. As a Therapist in the public mental health system for almost 10 years, she has treated a wide variety of issues ranging from mild anxiety and low self-esteem, to severe depression, unresolved trauma, grief/loss, and personality disorders. Additionally, as a Medical Social Worker for four years, she has counseled adult children of medically fragile patients through maintaining healthy family relationships and pre-grief. Working in such dynamic fields, she has been exposed to diversity of populations with multifaceted needs. Such exposure reminds her there can be many layers to one problem, requiring a lot of hard work and partnering with the client to achieve his/her goals. So, she opens up her virtual clinic at https://www.proventherapy.com to extend that healing touch through highly secured live and email channels.
Sessions with Caroline employ cognitive-behavioral, narrative, solution-focused, and family systems theories. But that is not all. She believes the relationship forged between the client and clinician is of paramount importance in the therapeutic process. She believes every person is different, every problem is different, and so the pathway to recovery must adapt to meet the person where they are.
“I incorporate pauses in our sessions from time to time, to check in with how the client feels about his/her progress. My clients’ problems often did not arise overnight, and they will not likely resolve so quickly either. At times this can feel discouraging to clients who simply want to feel better and move on with their lives. I like to continually ‘leave the door open’ for clients to be honest about the process of therapy.”