Tag Archives: #ptsdawareness

Tips To Master Anger and PTSD Management


You would probably name fear and anxiety, as symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, anger is another common sign. Knowing what to expect can help you or a loved one to get the help you need.

There are many reasons why PTSD may make you feel angry. It can be a reaction to past events, or it can be tied to your current circumstances, if you feel misunderstood and frustrated. You may be angry at others or yourself. You may also use anger to cover up other feelings. While anger is natural, it can interfere with your happiness and relationships. It’s important to learn how to manage your emotions, so you can feel more comfortable and in control.

Anger Management Techniques You Can Use:
External events may sometimes be beyond your control, but you can choose how to react. Changing your thinking and behavior can help you to feel calmer and cope with your emotions.

  1. STAY ACTIVE. Regular exercise reduces stress. Lifting weights or taking a walk outdoors may also provide relief, if you’re starting to feel irritated.
  1. REST AND RELAX. Your body and mind need time to heal. Aim for 8 hours of sleep each night and find relaxation practices that work for you, like listening to music.
  1. REACH OUT. Talk about your feelings with family and friends you trust. Let them know how they can help you.
  1. SLOW DOWN. Anger can make you say things you’ll regret later. Count to ten or spend some quiet time alone. It will be easier to react constructively if you give yourself a chance to cool down.
  1. KNOW YOUR TRIGGERSDo traffic jams or uncooperative coworkers make you see red? Plan ahead for challenging situations. Soothe yourself with a cup of tea and rehearse different ways to respond.
  1. THINK POSITIVE. Look on the bright side. Notice the pleasant things that happen each day. Watch the sunrise, and play with your children. Pay attention to how you talk to yourself.  Use kind and encouraging words.Suppressing anger can backfire, but sincere humor helps. Find something funny to say about slow wifi and noisy neighbors.

Other options to consider:

  1. TRY CBT. Are you concerned about how long and expensive therapy might be? Many experts agree that cognitive behavioral therapy is preferable for PTSD, and it usually requires only a few months to reduce anger and anxiety.
  1. JOIN A GROUP. You may also benefit from talking with others who have had similar experiences. Ask your primary physician or therapist for a referral, or call a local hospital to ask about what support groups are available in your area.
  1. KEEP A JOURNAL. Writing about your feelings can help provide clarity. You can keep your journal private or share it with your therapist.
  1. MAKE ART. Creative activities are another way to deal with strong emotions. Working with an art therapist can give you more insights and an opportunity to discuss what’s on your mind.
  1. CONSIDER MEDICATIONYour therapist may recommend medication to help you manage anger, at least temporarily

Developing compassion for yourself and getting the treatment you need can help you to manage anger and other symptoms of PTSD.  Let it be the first step in helping you to lead the happy and fulfilling life you deserve.

To Your Success,
Juan

Things You Should Know About Seeking Treatment For PTSD


There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to PTSD, and it most likely will not be resolved in a short amount of time. Furthermore, if there are comorbidities involved, it will take longer for the therapist to determine what diagnosis and treatment are appropriate. The type of treatment you or your loved one receives is up to your therapist, but below are some common forms of treatment.

Cognitive Processing Therapy
Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) is a specific type of therapy used to help people change the way they view trauma. It has been effective in helping reduce symptoms of PTSD, and many mental health specialists recommend this course of action. It’s thought to be one of the most effective treatments available. Trauma changes the way a person feels about themselves and the world, often causing them to develop an overly negative and hopeless view of things. This type of therapy can help them begin to reprocess the way they think about things. 

Prolonged Exposure Therapy
Since avoidance is a symptom of PTSD, therapists will sometimes use a treatment called Prolonged Exposure therapy (PE). This treatment helps people confront the things they’re avoiding in increments. This type of therapy will induce more anxiety and stress than CPT typically does, so therapists will try to equip their patients with anxiety-reducing coping skills.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing
EDMR is a different kind of treatment than talking through traumatic events. Instead, the patient is asked to think about the traumatic event while the therapist directs their eye movement. It’s thought that the eye movement while remembering a traumatic event can help drain the emotion and negative feelings attached to it. This type of therapy is still relatively new and is considered a non-traditional form of therapy. 

Medication For PTSD
For some, medication may be helpful in addition to therapy. According to the National Center for PTSD, antidepressants are sometimes effective for treating symptoms of PTSD. These types of medications include SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) and SNRIs (serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors). Your doctor or therapist can help you determine if medication might be right for you.

Treatment for PTSD may not be a cure, as with most mental health disorders total recovery can be difficult or unobtainable. However, many people who receive therapy see a significant and life changing improvement of symptoms. For some, therapy may even lead to a near absolution of symptoms. 

If you’re suffering from PTSD or you know someone who is, know that there are people who can help:

  • The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is available 24/7 by calling 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
  • For veterans, the National Center for PTSD is also available by calling 1-800-273-8255 or you can reach online here: https://www.veteranscrisisline.net

Hotlines are a good short-term solution, that should be followed up with therapy work from a trained professional. Build up a support network of people ready and willing to help when symptoms of PTSD become overwhelming.  Be patient with yourself (or your loved one) because PTSD is a real disorder that requires time and care to improve.

Remember, setbacks don’t erase all progress. For best results, learn all you can about PTSD, seek professional help, and keep your focus on healing. 

To Your Success,
Juan

 

Simple Guidance on PTSD, Behavior, and Relationships


People with PTSD are more likely to engage in risky or destructive behavior. If PTSD is triggered by trauma, doing something that might lead to additional trauma, is difficult to understand. It’s a common belief people with PTSD turn to these behaviors as a way to escape the symptoms of PTSD, especially intrusion. Those who use drugs or alcohol may be using them as a coping mechanism, to avoid thinking about their original trauma. It may also be a way to assuage guilt or shame associated with the trauma. 

Types of risky behavior may include:

  • Gambling
  • Drinking
  • Drunk driving
  • Aggression
  • Drugs
  • Unsafe sex with strangers
  • Extreme sports without regard for self-protection

This self-destructive behavior may diminish symptoms of PTSD momentarily, but ultimately the stress of these choices prolongs PTSD symptoms, and make the disorder worse. Dr. Naomi Sadeh, an Assistant Professor the National Center Boston VA/Boston University, is quoted saying: “for individuals with PTSD, exposure to new stressful events will often prolong their symptoms and can even make them worse. So these findings suggest that treatment providers should ask trauma-exposed veterans about reckless behavior to make sure they are not engaging in harmful behaviors that could make their PTSD symptoms worse”. When it comes to treating PTSD, a therapist will try to address any risky behaviors, to help reduce the risk of continued trauma. 

PTSD AND RELATIONSHIPS
It’s no secret that PTSD can strain relationships, particularly with a spouse or partner. There have been many cases of strong marriages unable to withstand the effects of severe PTSD. Though both may want to maintain the relationship, there are times the issues care extremely difficult to resolve

In 2019, Meagan Drillinger wrote a piece for Healthline called “6 Things I Learned From Dating Someone With PTSD.” In the article she explained, “For three years, I was in a relationship with a man who experienced PTSD symptoms daily. My ex, D., was a decorated combat veteran who served in Afghanistan three times. The toll it took on his soul was heartbreaking.”

She went on to say: “being the partner of someone who has PTSD can be challenging — and frustrating — for many reasons. You want to take away their pain, but you’re also dealing with your own guilt at needing to care for yourself, too. You want to have all the answers, but you often have to come to grips with the reality that this is a condition that can’t be loved out of someone”.

If you are in a relationship with someone who has PTSD, you can’t heal them with support. You can make their road easier, but your loved one should seek professional help, to get the tools and resources they desperately need.

Things that you can do that might help ease their burden and lessen the strain in your relationship:

  1. Understand that PTSD is real. Perhaps one of the first steps in helping someone with PTSD, is acknowledging it’s a real disorder that produces real symptoms. Though mental disorders are difficult to understand or relate to for those who are not experiencing them, to people with the disorder, it is very real and very debilitating.
  2. Give them room not to talk. Talking about a traumatic event might help someone who has PTSD, but that doesn’t mean they’re always willing or able to discuss the details of their trauma.
    • Their resistance to talking about the traumatic event is not a sign of being unloving or untrusting, it’s more likely because they want to avoid thinking about the event. Bringing it up often is more likely to cause them to pull away and become uncommunicative.
    • Gently encourage them to talk about it when it seems appropriate but allow them to be the one to discuss it when they’re ready.
  3. Work with a routine. A routine is a good way to help establish order in your home for a person suffering from PTSD. Doing this can give a person with PTSD a sense of security and stability and provide comfort in a world that feels chaotic and out of control.The schedule you use will be different than someone else’s, but it may include exercise, meditation or prayer, planned mealtimes, and daily chores.
  4. Learn more about PTSD. Educating yourself on PTSD will be one of your biggest strengths for helping a loved one, and help you cope with the reality. You can do this by reading, watching videos, talking with other people who have PTSD, or discussing it with a therapist.
  5. Understand that caregiver burden is real. Taking care of someone struggling mentally or physically can be extremely stressful and draining.This experience is commonly perceived as a chronic stressor, and caregivers often experience negative psychological, behavioral, and physiological effects on their daily lives and health.

Every moment of every day can’t be consumed with PTSD. Take time to do things that you love and enjoy. You can also try finding a support group, or community of people dealing with the same thing. To help lighten this load, if you’re a caregiver, it’s a good idea to take time for yourself.

In closing, if you are a caregiver, seek loved ones in your life and allow them to be part of your greater support network. Outside help is essential for helping you and your loved one cope.  Although some may feel there’s a stigma getting professional help, this viewpoint is becoming less common, as people open up about mental health issues. There is no shame in it. 

To Your Success,
Juan

All You Need To Know About The History of PTSD


Photo : Yay Images

Dear Readers,

Welcome to April! This month, we will focus on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. There is quite a bit to learn, so let’s start at the beginning. Two years ago all our lives were considerably upended. I live in NYC, and still have  very vivid memories waking up to reports, of another 800-900 souls who lost battle with COVID-19 the day before. The virus raged through the city. With more than 9 million of us packed into in small spaces, it was a recipe for the disaster it was.

The NYC Health Commission has been relentless. Every day, there is a television ad imploring residents to be mindful of our mental health. Free counseling and advice is avaialble to those who are struggling. It’s not a stretch to say many are suffering from pandemic related PTSD.  Many people associate post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with combat soldiers. But many were never in the military. Any traumatic event can result in PTSD.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a trauma or stressor related disorder, is debilitating, and affects roughly 7-8% of the population, according to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. Sufferers experience  symptoms brought on by a traumatic event or series of events. Though PTSD is most commonly associated with people who served in the military, anyone who goes through a traumatic experience is at risk for developing it. 

The American Psychiatric Association defines PTSD this way; a psychiatric disorder that may occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, or rape or who have been threatened with death, sexual violence or serious injury.

Populations commonly exposed to traumatic events have a higher average of PTSD than the average citizen. Soldiers who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Enduring Freedom (OEF) returned with a 10-20% rate of PTSD. Of those who served in the Vietnam War, around 15% were diagnosed with PTSD.  

                                                             HISTORY OF PTSD
Although PTSD has been around for centuries, it wasn’t added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders until 1980. The term became much more familiar to the common American after the Vietnam War. In other times in American history, PTSD was referred to as other things. Physicians noted changes in people, usually soldiers, that couldn’t be wholly explained by wounds or injuries.

A FEW NAMES USED TO DESCRIBE PTSD BEFORE 1980

  • Nostalgia. Coined by Swiss physician Dr. Johannes Hofer in the late 1600s to describe soldiers experiencing deep despair, homesickness, sleeplessness and anxiety. 
  • Soldier’s/irritable heart. Used by Dr. Jacob Mendez Da Costa, to describe physical issues soldiers in the Civil War, not related to combat wounds; constricted breathing, heart palpitations, and other cardiovascular ailments
  • Railway spine or railway brain. PTSD terms not related to soldiers. During the 1800s, railroad travel became very common. It also saw a stark rise in railroad related accidents. People who survived these accidents sometimes suffered from anxiety and sleeplessness, referred to as railway brain.
  • Shell shock. Term used after World War I. A particularly brutal war, with many soldiers coming home experiencing things like anxiety, nightmares, impaired sight and vision, tremors, and fatigue. They were directly exposed to exploding shells on the battlefield, giving the name “shell shock” it’s origin.
  • Gross stress reaction. Used in the DSM-I in 1952 to diagnose psychological issues connected to traumatic events. It was believed symptoms would only last a short period of time. If they persisted longer than 6 months, it was no longer thought to be related to a specific traumatic event.
  • Adjustment reaction to adult life. In 1968, PTSD-related terms were removed and replaced with the words “adjustment reaction to adult life.” Many experts believe this change failed to truly encompass the disorder and related complications and was a step in the wrong direction.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder. Officially added to the DSM-III in 1980. Writers of the DSM-III used symptoms from people who had survived traumatic events such as war veterans, Holocaust survivors, and sexual victims to help develop the diagnosis description.

PRE 1980’S DEFINITIONS

The 1980s term PTSD was a major shift in the way people began to view reaction to trauma. During World War I, many perceived soldiers with PTSD symptoms as being weak or feeble. It was thought that the things they were feeling were due to a poor constitution. 

The change during the 1980s put PTSD in an entirely new light. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. “From an historical perspective, the significant change ushered in by the PTSD concept was the stipulation that the etiological agent was outside the individual (i.e., a traumatic event) rather than an inherent individual weakness (i.e., a traumatic neurosis)” In other words, anyone can be susceptible to a physical and mental reaction to a highly traumatic life event. 

                                                 PTSD IN THE DSM-5 (IN 2013)
In 2013, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual was updated. PTSD was changed from being categorized as an anxiety disorder, to a “trauma or stressor-related disorder.” One of the reasons for this change is that PTSD is not only exhibited as anxiety. 

Psychiatrist Dr. Tracey Marks explains: “with the Diagnostic and statistical manual that came out in 2013, it was moved to the category of trauma and stress-related disorders. The significance of this is that PTSD is more than anxiety. People have very complex emotions afterward that include guilt, shame, and anger and those are just examples…but lots of things more than just anxiety”.

Did any of this surprise you? Now that the history has been summarised, The next will look at the symptoms, in a two-part post. There is a lot to unpack, and I think it’s best to deliver some of the information in bite sized pieces. See you soon!

To Your Success,
Juan