DEALING WITH PTSD
No matter when PTSD develops, even years after the traumatic event, it can be successfully treated. Treatment will depend on how severe your symptoms are and how soon after a trauma they develop.
If you decide to seek help, you may be offered any of the following as treatment options:
- Watchful waiting – keeping track of your symptoms to monitor whether they improve or worsen without treatment.
- Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) – a therapy that aims to help you manage symptoms by changing the way you think and behave.
- Exposure therapy – a behavioural therapy that helps to reduce your fear or anxiety by getting you to confront the thoughts, feelings or situations you feel apprehensive about.
- Acceptance and commitment therapy – a behavioural therapy that combines mindfulness skills with the practice of self-acceptance.
- Medication – many people manage PTSD successfully using medication.
Relaxation techniques such as yoga, massage and acupuncture can also help alleviate some symptoms of PTSD. While these will not resolve post-traumatic stress disorder, they may help you to manage stress and the symptoms surrounding it.
If you’re struggling with PTSD Symptoms, some of the following might help:
- Try to bring yourself back to the moment. If your trauma or flashbacks feel very real, try to use your senses to remind you of where you are and that you are safe. Think about the smells, sights and sounds that are going on, what’s different? Try to bring yourself back to the moment.
- Positive affirmations and encouragement. You got this! No really, you do. Use positive language to let yourself know you’re ok. Find what works for you from ‘I’m safe’, to ‘I can deal with this’, and everything in between (including swears if it helps!)
- You’re not alone. Join a group where people may be having a similar experience to you. Social support is great for mental wellbeing and support groups can offer a safe space to share your feelings.
- Give relaxation techniques a go. It might not seem like your bag, but meditation, deep breathing, visualisation and progressive muscle relaxation can be useful tools.
- Self-care. Looking after yourself can help you cope with stress. Plenty of sleep, regular exercise and maintaining a healthy diet can make it easier to manage your PTSD symptoms.
If you’re finding things difficult, you can also refer yourself directly to a psychological therapies service through the NHS.