If you are suffering from PTSD, you are well aware of how debilitating it can be.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that develops in people after they have undergone traumatic life events. It was initially called ‘shell shock’ when it was first diagnosed in war veterans. There are often misconceptions regarding PTSD that the person suffering from it is dwelling on past events, or is not able to move on.
However, the fact of the matter is that PTSD affects people differently. Moving on and getting over it is not something that happens on its own or by itself. With consistent treatment and supportive people in one's life, people with PTSD can build resiliency skills.
Symptoms of PTSD
Every person is affected differently by PTSD. The kind of symptoms that manifest in you depends on your nervous system and stress tolerance levels. However, there are some common symptoms normally observed in PTSD. These are:
1. Symptoms related to re-experiencing traumatic events.
You might feel debilitated by fear when something reminds you of the trauma you have experienced. The re-experiencing symptoms can be in the form of nightmares, flashbacks, and frightening thoughts which make you feel that you are going through the event again.
2. Symptoms related to avoidance.
You might also deliberately avoid situations that would trigger memories of the trauma. Avoidance-related symptoms can cause you to stay away from events, places, and objects that are reminders of the traumatic event. You might also try to stay busy if you want to avoid the feelings of trauma.
3. Symptoms related to arousal and reactivity
You might also find yourself jittery or constantly on the lookout for danger. Reactivity symptoms include feeling startled, on edge, or tense. You might also have angry outbursts and difficulty sleeping.
4. Symptoms affecting the mood and cognition
You might experience negative changes in your feelings and beliefs, like feelings of guilt, blame, and negative thoughts about yourself or the world. You might find that you are no longer interested in things you enjoyed previously. You can also have trouble concentrating and remembering important things that are related to that event.
Treatments of PTSD
When you are suffering from PTSD, it is often also accompanied by feelings of anxiety and depression. You might find that you have difficulty with some common aspects of everyday life like holding down your job, maintaining relationships and friendships, or looking after yourself. There are treatments that can help you cope with these problems, which consist of:
1. Trauma Focused-Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. This could involve exposing yourself to situations or feelings that remind you of the traumatic event.
2. Medication that is specifically prescribed for PTSD.
3. Eye Movement Desensitisation & Reprocessing (EMDR) to help the brain reprocess flashbacks/ distressful memories. This can help in making sense of the traumatic event by reframing negative perceptions, when possible, and focus on finding meaning and drawing strength from past events.
4. Family therapy in which you can work through your relationships together as a family.
5. Support groups, whether in the form of family, friends, or online.
Benefits of PTSD Support Groups
When it comes to seeking treatment for PTSD, something that can help you immensely is an online/in-person support group. There are many benefits of joining a support group.
When you join a support group, you would be able to meet with other people struggling with the same problem. This helps in recognizing that you are not alone in your struggles. Also you will be able to recognize and validate your feelings in a better way.
2. Learn from others
Support groups are also beneficial for learning from others' experiences. The people you connect with in these groups will tell you about the coping strategies which they found effective. You might also find ways of addressing issues in your relationships.
3. Helping others
Support groups will help you learn from others’ experiences and they will also give you an opportunity to help others coping with PTSD. When you are able to help others, it can affect your self-esteem positively. You will find faith in your abilities to cope with the symptoms of PTSD.
4. Overcome negative effects of trauma
This can be instrumental in helping you overcome the negative issues that have resulted from trauma. You can develop trusting, supportive and healthy relationships with other people through these support groups.
Support groups can be great for bringing together those people who have undergone similar experiences post a traumatic event. Support groups can provide great opportunities for sharing your personal experience, coping strategies, feelings, and first-hand information about your treatments. When you help each other, you can overcome the debilitating effects of PTSD.