PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, is a mental health condition that can develop after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. These events can range from natural disasters, sexual or physical assault, or military combat, among others.
The prevalence of PTSD varies depending on the population being studied, but it is estimated to affect about 3.5% of the general population and up to 20% of military personnel. It is important to recognize the signs of PTSD and seek treatment, as it can have significant impacts on a person’s daily life and overall well-being.
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Symptoms of PTSD
Symptoms of PTSD can be grouped into four main categories:
- re-experiencing the traumatic event
- avoidance of triggers
- negative changes in thoughts and feelings
- changes in physical and emotional reactions
Re-experiencing the traumatic event can take the form of flashbacks, where the person relives the event as if it is happening again, or intrusive thoughts or memories of the event.
Avoidance of triggers may involve avoiding certain people, places, or activities that bring back memories of the trauma.
Negative changes in thoughts and feelings can include difficulty remembering aspects of the event, negative beliefs about oneself or the world, distorted thinking, and problems with emotional regulation.
Changes in physical and emotional reactions may include being easily startled, feeling on edge or hypervigilant, or experiencing changes in sleep or appetite.
Help with PTSD
There are ways and helping options available for PTSD.
Counselling and Psychotherapy for PTSD
Psychotherapy is one of the most common and effective helps, with several different approaches available.
EMDR, or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, is a form of psychotherapy that is specifically designed to treat trauma and related conditions such as PTSD. It is based on the idea that the brain can naturally heal from trauma, similar to the way the body naturally heals from physical injuries.
During EMDR, the therapist guides the person through a process of recalling the traumatic event while simultaneously engaging in some form of bilateral stimulation, such as eye movements or tapping. This is believed to help the person process the traumatic memories and reduce the negative emotions and beliefs associated with the event.
There is strong evidence to support the use of EMDR for the treatment of trauma and PTSD. Multiple studies have found EMDR to be effective in reducing symptoms of PTSD and improving overall functioning in individuals who have experienced trauma. EMDR is considered to be a well-established and effective treatment for trauma and is recommended by various professional organizations, such as the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies and the World Health Organization.
It is important to note that EMDR should be conducted by a trained and certified EMDR therapist. It is generally recommended to seek the help of a mental health professional, such as a therapist trained in evidence-based treatments for trauma, for the most effective and comprehensive care.
EFT – Emotional Freedom Techniques
EFT, or Emotional Freedom Techniques, is a form of alternative treatment that involves tapping on specific acupressure points on the body while focusing on the traumatic memory or emotion. It is based on the principles of acupuncture and the idea that negative emotions and traumas can be stored in the body’s energy system. By tapping on these points and focusing on the traumatic memory or emotion, it is believed that the negative energy can be released, leading to a reduction in emotional distress.
Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) is a common form of psychotherapy that aims to help the person identify and change negative thoughts and behaviours.
Exposure therapy involves gradually confronting the trauma and learning to cope with the related emotions and memories. Other approaches include eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) and trauma-focused therapy.
Matrix Reimprinting is a form of energy psychology that is based on the principles of EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques). It is a newer and less researched method that involves tapping on acupressure points and using visualization and positive affirmations to alter the memory of a traumatic event. The goal of Matrix Reimprinting is to change the way the person thinks about and responds to the traumatic event, leading to a reduction in negative emotions and an improvement in overall well-being.
There is limited research on the effectiveness of Matrix Reimprinting for PTSD. Some studies have found that Matrix Reimprinting may be helpful in reducing symptoms of PTSD and improving overall functioning in individuals who have experienced trauma, while others have not found significant effects. More research is needed to fully understand the potential benefits and limitations of Matrix Reimprinting for PTSD.
Medications can also be helpful in managing symptoms of PTSD, such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications. It is important to work with a mental health professional to determine the best treatment plan. In addition to traditional treatments, there are also complementary and alternative treatments that may be helpful, such as acupuncture or herbal remedies.
Day to Day Self Help for PTSD
While seeking professional treatment is important, there are also several helpful ways of managing the day-to-day symptoms of PTSD.
Grounding techniques involve bringing the person back to the present moment and can include sensory activities such as focusing on the sights, sounds, and sensations in the environment.
Deep breathing and relaxation techniques, such as progressive muscle relaxation or mindfulness meditation, can help to manage anxiety and stress. Exercise and healthy self-care, such as getting enough sleep and eating a healthy diet, can also be beneficial.
Seeking social support is another important coping strategy. This can involve talking to a trusted friend or family member, joining a support group, or seeking out online communities. It is important to have a supportive network of people to lean on during difficult times.
Processing the trauma is another important aspect of coping with PTSD. This can involve talking to a therapist about the event and the emotions surrounding it, journaling, or finding creative outlets for expression such as art or music.
Setting boundaries is also important for managing PTSD. This can involve setting limits on the amount of time spent discussing or thinking about the trauma, setting limits on the demands placed on oneself, and learning to say no to things that are not manageable.
Finding meaning can also be helpful in coping with PTSD. This may involve finding ways to turn the traumatic event into something positive, such as advocating for others or volunteering.
Professional Help and PTSD
It is important to recognise when professional help is needed. If symptoms of PTSD are disrupting daily life and causing significant distress, it is important to seek the help of a mental health professional. They can provide a safe and supportive environment to process the trauma and develop coping strategies.
There are several options for finding a therapist, asking for recommendations from a primary care physician, or contacting local mental health organisations. It is important to find a therapist who is experienced and professionally trained and who is a good fit for the person’s needs and preferences.
Support groups can also be a helpful resource for people with PTSD. These groups provide a safe and supportive environment to connect with others who have experienced similar traumas. They can offer emotional support, practical advice, and a sense of community.
To summarise the above and in conclusion, PTSD can have significant impacts on a person’s daily life. It is important to seek help and support to manage the symptoms and improve overall well-being. There are many treatment options available, including psychotherapy, medications, complementary and alternative treatments, grounding techniques, deep breathing and relaxation, exercise and healthy self-care, seeking social support, processing the trauma, setting boundaries, and finding meaning. If symptoms are disrupting daily life, it is important to seek the help of a mental health professional and consider joining a support group.