Three Ways to Improve Living with PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a serious condition affecting those who have endured deeply traumatic experiences. Although it’s associated with combat veterans, PTSD can strike anyone who has experienced any type of trauma for any length of time. If you suspect you or a loved one has PTSD, it’s crucial to know the symptoms and familiarize yourself with treatment methods.

Causes of PTSD

The causes of PTSD are myriad. War and natural disasters are common causes, both for those who experienced the events and those who witnessed them. Other causes of PTSD include –

  • Abuse of any kind
  • Kidnapping
  • Rape or assault
  • Sudden death of a loved one, especially if the death was violent or traumatic
  • Terrorist attacks
  • Vehicle or airplane accidents

PTSD Symptoms

Everyone will experience PTSD differently, but there are some hallmark symptoms to look for. One of the first is re-experiencing the traumatic event. A person with PTSD may have frequent nightmares, flashbacks, or intrusive memories. They may have intense physical reactions to everyday events. For example, a combat veteran might experience sweating and a pounding heart during a fireworks display. An abuse victim may react this way to a slammed door or a raised voice.

People with PTSD generally go out of their way to avoid reminders of trauma, even if it means avoiding favorite activities or the people they love. They may become irritable, aggressive, or unusually fearful. Some people with PTSD report feelings of numbness, during which they shut down even around those who want to help them most. A person with PTSD may not feel safe anywhere, even in his or her own home or former favorite place.

Coping with PTSD

PTSD is a difficult and often lifelong condition, but it can be dealt with effectively. If you have PTSD or know someone who does, a few ways to help include –

  • Exercise: Frequent moderate exercise will release endorphins and help you relax. Additionally, fitness goals may give you something positive to focus on.
  • Sensory input: Learn the sights, sounds, and smells that calm you down as well as your triggers. If you find the scent of lavender, vanilla, or honey calming, invest in some candles or potpourri. If classical music helps, turn it on often.
  • Emotional connections: It may be best to start with one-on-one counseling. When you feel ready, you might seek out a support group for your specific traumatic experiences. Journaling or drawing can facilitate these connections, as well.
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