Coping with PTSD after Therapy
The latest scientific discoveries offer long-term hope for people dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). By using a variety of coping skills along with therapy and certain medications, it’s possible to live a normal life with the disorder.
Even after treatment, a person with PTSD needs some type of support. He or she may choose to see a counselor or join a support group. There also may be a need for a short return to treatment if serious symptoms return. Many people find support animals, such as service dogs, helpful. The presence of the animal helps a person return to the present when caught up in anxious memories and promotes healthy behaviors that reduce stress such as exercise according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).
Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
PTSD is a type of anxiety disorder brought on by extreme trauma. A person may witness a traumatic event or feel that she is in life-threatening danger. It’s also common for people with PTSD to have experienced ongoing trauma, such as childhood abuse, domestic violence or combat trauma, according to NAMI.
When some people experience trauma—especially people who have experienced multiple instances of trauma—their brains’ normal response to danger becomes damaged. It’s normal for a person’s nervous system to prepare for extreme action in the midst of a dangerous or terrifying situation. This is commonly known as the flight-or-fight response. In some cases, a person’s nervous system reverts to the flight-or-fight response even when he or she is not in danger.
The most recognized symptoms of PTSD are clustered around three main categories according to the PTSD Alliance Resource Center. At any moment, an estimated 5 percent of Americans suffer from PTSD, and around 8 percent of adults will develop PTSD during their lifetimes. Major symptoms of the disorder include the following according to the Veterans Administration:
- Re-living the event – This can include a sudden feeling that the traumatic event is happening again along with emotional or physical reactions such as panic.
- Avoiding memories of the event – Sufferers may isolate themselves from others and feel emotionally numb. They also may avoid anything associated with the trauma.
- Being hyper-vigilant – This can include symptoms such as insomnia, irritability and anger as well as feeling always on guard for danger.
- Changes in feelings – A person with PTSD may not have positive feelings about others and may stay away from relationships. He or she may believe the world is dangerous and full of untrustworthy people.
PTSD symptoms require treatment because they significantly alter a person’s quality of life. A person’s relationships suffer, and he or she may be unable to leave the house or have trouble regulating emotions.
Living with PTSD
It’s important to find treatment for PTSD for the following reasons:
- Effective treatment radically improves a person’s quality of life.
- Treatment also helps a person manage any co-occurring disorders such as substance use, depression, other anxiety disorders or borderline personality disorder according to NAMI.
A person may begin with a more intensive form of treatment that includes psychotherapy and certain medications notes NAMI. For example, some research shows antidepressants may reduce PTSD symptoms. In addition, alpha- and beta-blockers used for high blood pressure also interfere with the way memories are stored in the brain, and may be helpful for helping people avoid fear memories that could be stored in long-term memory.
Meanwhile, psychotherapies help a person learn skills to manage negative thought patterns or find ways to remember trauma without reacting with anxiety, anger and fear notes NAMI. Ongoing psychotherapy, particularly newer therapies like eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) possibly help rewire the brain to restore normal responses to everyday life events
While there is no cure for PTSD, many people live productive, fulfilling lives by practicing stress reduction and planning ahead for events that may cause feelings of anxiety. Additional services such as family therapy restore relationships and help everyone involved understand and manage the feelings associated with PTSD.
Need Help Finding PTSD Treatment?
PTSD is a chronic disease that requires day-to-day management. When a person lives with PTSD, he or she needs a variety of tools and strategies to maintain long-term recovery. True recovery takes dramatic lifestyle changes that force a person to focus on positive thought patterns.
If you or a loved one is struggling with a mental health disorder or substance abuse, please call our toll-free helpline. Our admissions coordinators find the best treatment program for each individual person. Don’t wait to find help. Call us today, and get started on a healthy lifestyle. We treat addictions and anxiety disorders with a philosophy that addresses the whole person—mind, body and soul. Our toll-free helpline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Reach out today.