Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is an anxiety disorder which can be brought on when a person experiences very scary or distressing events.
According to mental health charity Mind, the latest survey on the number of people who have various types of mental health issues found in 2016 that more than four in 100 people in England had PTSD.
With that figure in mind, and as it’s Mental Health Awareness Week, we’ve put together five tips on what you should do if you think you’re suffering with PTSD, and what the professionals say that you can do to cope.
See your GP
First thing’s first – as the NHS puts it: ‘The main treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are psychological therapies and medication.’
The NHS also clarifies that, while it is ‘normal to experience upsetting and confusing thoughts after a traumatic event’, they also recommend that ‘you should visit your GP if you or your child are still having problems about four weeks after the traumatic experience, or if the symptoms are particularly troublesome.’
With that being said, in addition so seeking professional help, there are also some self-care methods that you can employ to make dealing with the day-to-day effects of PTSD a little easier.
Open up at your own pace
Many people with PTSD find it difficult to open up about their trauma, but, as Mind puts it, ‘you don’t need to be able to describe the trauma to tell someone how you are currently feeling.’
‘It could help to talk to a friend or family member, or a professional such as a GP or a trained listener at a helpline.’
However they also emphasise the importance of giving yourself time, saying, ‘it may not be helpful to talk about your experiences before you feel ready.
‘Try to be patient with yourself and don’t judge yourself harshly for needing time and support to recover from PTSD.’
Learn what your triggers are…
‘You might find that certain experiences, situations or people seem to trigger flashbacks or other symptoms,’ says Mind.
Getting to know what your triggers are can help you avoid flashbacks wherever possible, which can go a long way towards making your daily life easier.
…But don’t fight your feelings
However, as a testimonial on Mind’s website says, ‘you can’t stop the waves but you can learn to surf; through my PTSD recovery journey I’ve learnt that emotions come and go in waves […] it’s best not to fight against them but ride with them.’
If you do find yourself needing to cope with a flashback, Mind recommends focusing on your breathing, telling yourself that you are safe, and carrying an item with you that reminds you of the present.
Both Mind and the NHS agree that exercise is good for your mental health, with the NHS saying: ‘Being physically active can lift your mood, reduce stress and anxiety, encourage the release of endorphins (your body’s feel-good chemicals) and improve self-esteem.
‘Exercising may also be a good distraction from negative thoughts, and it can improve social interaction.’
On top of that, Mind mentions exercise specifically in relation to managing PTSD, with their website stating plainly: ‘Exercise can be really helpful for your mental well-being’.
Mental Health questions answered
Google’s most-asked mental health questions in 2019 so far:
According to Google, the most frequently asked ‘how to’ questions relating to mental health this year so far are:
1. How to relieve stress
2. How to help anxiety
3. How to stop worrying
4. How to stop a panic attack
5. How to deal with stress
6. How to cope with depression
7. How to know if you have anxiety
8. How to know if you have depression
9. How to help someone with PTSD
10. How to overcome social anxiety
11. How to get help for depression
12. How to treat OCD
13. How to help a depressed friend
14. How to overcome a phobia
15. How to treat PTSD
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