Below are some direct and basic ways of coping with PTSD symptoms:
Coping with distressing memories, thoughts, or images of the trauma:
- Change your thoughts. Tell yourself that they are just memories and that it’s normal to have them after a major traumatic event.
- Talk about your memories and share your feelings with someone you can trust.
- Reminders of the trauma can feel overwhelming, but try to remember that they will lessen with time and proper treatment.
Coping with sudden feelings of anxiety or panic:
Stress reactions to trauma can include symptoms of racing or pounding heart, lightheadedness, or distractibility and inattentiveness. These are mostly caused because of rapid breathing, and if you are confronted with PTSD symptoms remember the following:
- You often have the same symptoms while exercising, and they wouldn’t worry you then, so don’t let them make you anxious now. You have survived these PTSD symptoms before.
- False and frightening thoughts sometimes accompany these feelings. For example, you may think you’re dying, having a heart attack, or losing control of yourself. Understand that it’s these terrifying thoughts that make you think these are catastrophic symptoms .
- Slow down your breathing with deep, steady breaths.
- Remember that the PTSD symptoms are temporary and will pass. You will be able to go on with what you were doing soon, just as you have before.
Work toward making these negative symptoms happen less often by employing the positive actions above to respond to your anxiety or panic. These symptoms can be become more manageable and help you in coping with PTSD symptoms.
Coping with flashbacks of the traumatic event (re-living the event):
- Talk yourself through it. Remind yourself of the current date, time, and place. Most importantly, remind yourself that you’re safe and that the trauma happened in the past, and you are now in the present.
- Focus on the here and now; notice your surroundings, keep your eyes open, notice where you are now.
- Start doing something physically when the flashback starts. Walk around, have a drink of water, or wash your hands, distract yourself if you can.
- Talk about what is happening with someone you trust.
- Keep reminding yourself that flashbacks are a common response after major traumatic events.
- Let your therapist or physician know about the flashback(s).
Coping with nightmares or bad dreams associated with the trauma:
- It can be difficult to come back to reality after startling awake from a bad dream. Let your breathing settle and remind yourself that the panic was caused by a dream and you are safe now, not in real danger.
- Try getting out of bed and walking around to regroup and reorient yourself to where you are.
- Do something that will calm you down like breathing exercises and meditation, or listening to soothing music.
- If possible, talk to someone you trust.
- Let your doctor or therapist know about the nightmares. Some medicines can help with sleep disturbances.
Coping with insomnia (initial and middle insomnia):
- Regulate sleeping patterns by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day.
- Don’t exercise for several hours before bed time.
- Don’t use your sleeping area for anything other than sleeping or sex.
- Avoid stimulants that negatively affect restful sleep like alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine.
- Don’t lie awake in bed thinking or worrying. Try relaxing breathing exercises, listening to soothing music, or getting up and moving around for a few minutes. You could also try reading, drinking a glass of warm milk or herbal tea, or working on a quiet hobby. If you can’t sleep, get out of bed until you are relaxed and ready to try again.
Coping with symptoms of anger, rage, and irritability:
- Walk away from the situation and take some time to cool off and sort out what’s happened. Try counting to 10 while focusing on your breathing to calm yourself down.
- Create a daily exercise routine because exercise reduces tension and relieves stress.
- Remind yourself that getting angry doesn’t help. It will increase your stress level and can actually cause other problems with your health.
- Let your therapist or doctor know about your anger if it becomes a frequent problem. Consider taking anger management classes.
- If your anger manifests against loved ones, talk to them about it as soon as possible. During your apology, let them know what happened and explain the steps you are taking how you are coping with PTSD symptoms.
Treatment for PTSD
Because our treatment for depression relies on evidence based practices, our Intensive Outpatient Program shares many common methods with other successful treatment for PTSD. The foundation of our treatment program for relies on the principles of the stages of change, cognitive behavioral therapy, solution focused treatment, skills training and identifying repetitive dysfunctional behavioral relationship patterns to promote recovery from PTSD, depression and other mental health disorders. In fact, our Intensive Outpatient Program in Memphis, TN that has been proven to be effective in the treatment of these disorders in six peer reviewed treatment outcome studies. Our treatment center provides services to those who need more treatment than one hour a week, but less than 24 hour care, by providing three hours of treatment per day, three to five days per week, in an intensive outpatient setting. If you or a loved one is showing signs of PTSD, depression or anxiety, they should be assessed by a trained mental health professional who can help design a treatment plan for depression that can result in recovery. Treatment for PTSD, depression and anxiety can be highly successful. Call us at 901-682-6136 to schedule an appointment.