What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder & 5 tips for treatment
What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD? It’s Veterans Day 2018. In recent years so many war veterans have been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In addition there is now an above average rate of incidents of shootings. Specifically there was even a recent event close to my home, in Parkland, Fl. That and other things made me decide to write this article. Mainly I wrote this so that it will hopefully help to bring some clarity as to what PTSD is and some suggestions as to how it can be treated.
Correct treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Unfortunately there is no one correct treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. However I based this on my personal experience. Having suffered significant trauma which was a result of all types of abuse during my childhood and adolescence. As well as experiencing trauma related to being in abusive relationships later on in my adult life. I have experienced nightmares and some flashbacks for as long as I remember. This just serves as a guideline. Therefore I strongly recommend that if you feel that you suffer from PTSD that you consult a licensed clinician or a psychologist.
How the psychology field defines Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
In 2013, the American Psychiatric Association revised the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder diagnostic criteria. This is in the fifth edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5; 1). Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is included in a new category in DSM-5, Trauma, and Stressor-Related Disorders. Full copyrighted criteria are available from the American Psychiatric Association. Here I just list a few.
Criteria to be diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
What does it take to be diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder? The person would have had to have been previously exposed a number of things. Death, threatened death, actual or threatened serious injury, or actual or threatened sexual violence, or similar. This is including any kind of abuse or domestic violence, experiencing it directly or indirectly by observing it.
Typical symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Typical symptoms include: nightmares, flashbacks, emotional distress, and intrusive thoughts.
For example, for years following the abuse, I would have continued nightmares. Inaddition I also developed sensitivity to criticism and aversion to anybody talking loudly. I would experience physical sensations, such as vomiting or upset stomach. Basically, I developed a trigger – in this case, a loud voice.
Additional Post Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms
Another example is in the case of people that were exposed to violence. This includes shooting and guns. They develop emotional distress with ANY loud noises that resemble a gun shot. It can take years to heal and not to experience emotional distress when the trigger presents itself.
For a person to meet the criteria for PTSD, the symptoms need to last at least a month. They also experience distress and functional impairment in several key areas of life such as social and occupational
So what can we do about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?
Most of all you should know that you are not alone. What helped me most is to seek support of friends. They normalized my feelings and helped me to see that what I was experiencing was not the norm. My boyfriend’s family was nothing like my own. Fortunately I experienced joy and laughter, and not abuse and tension, which was the norm in my family when I was an adolescent.
I also worked with several therapists, coaches, and healers. By now I had learned how to identify my triggers and how to manage my emotions and “rewrite my story”. One approach that was helpful was EMDR. Helping me with a pervasive memory of being severely beaten. The fortunate thing was finding a therapist that was trained in EMDR. After a few sessions I was able to tell my story without crying and was able to emotionally detach from the incident.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder & Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)
However, there was an approach that finally started to help me. This is in terms of stopping intrusive and limiting thoughts and beliefs. This occured when I learned and received training in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). In essence, this approach focuses on the linguistic and how we store and process memories.
Negative Programming as it relates to Trauma & Abuse
I have been able to start understanding that my negative programming was due to being exposed to abuse and trauma that colored my world. Largely I saw the world as a threat and subconsciously sought experiences and people that confirmed that the world is not a safe place and that people cannot be trusted. Only when I started changing my beliefs did my life and my well-being improve.
Join a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Support Group
Join a support group. Other people who have gone through similar experiences can not only offer validation, you will also feel understood. Not many people (including some therapists) really understood why I am not able to get better. This is in spite of years of therapy and medication. Medication can be helpful in the initial stages. But the key is to understand the root causes and how your beliefs and thoughts contribute to the disorder.
Keep journaling. When we are overwhelmed with thoughts keep journaling! It’s key that we find healthy ways to manage our thoughts and get them out of our head.
Learn stress management and breathing techniques. I think meditation literally saved my life. Previously I studied different modalities including mindfulness, zen, guided meditation, and meditation based on mantra (the Art of Living Foundation). Finally I was able to heal insomnia and significantly reduced anxiety and depression symptoms.
Hopefully this blog post was helpful. Take a moment and let us know in the comments section.
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