America is not getting past post-traumatic stress disorder. 3.6% of Americans have PTSD in any given year; that’s roughly nine million people, including children.
A PTSD attack can occur whenever you are exposed to a thought or sensation reminiscent of a traumatic event. It can also occur in response to stress.
But you’re not helpless to a PTSD attack. You can prevent one from occurring, stop one in progress, and develop healthy strategies to recover from one. Here are the steps you must follow to live a full life with PTSD.
Talk to Yourself
A PTSD panic attack can be disorienting, especially if you have a detailed flashback. Ground yourself in the moment by telling yourself that what you see and feel is not real. Say out loud that you are safe and surrounded by people who care about you.
If you’re exposed to a traumatizing visual, you can close your eyes. But keeping your eyes open and describing out loud what you see can remind you of where you are. Walking around can also ground you, especially if you’re outside.
After the panic attack has passed, you can talk through with yourself about what happened. Figure out what contributed to the episode and come up with steps you can take to avoid future ones. Take some deep breaths before you go back to what you were doing.
Avoid Using Drugs and Alcohol
Alcohol is a sedative, meaning that it slows your heart and breathing levels down and makes you feel calmer. The emotional effects of alcohol can be strong at first, but you will develop a tolerance to it. You will need to drink more alcohol to overcome your PTSD symptoms, which can result in addiction.
Never drink alcohol or consume illicit drugs to deal with a PTSD episode. If you have had a history of alcohol or drug abuse, talk to a psychiatrist and a drug treatment professional about coping with PTSD.
Talk to Others
A 2022 study found that people with undiagnosed PTSD are admitted to hospitals more frequently than people with diagnosed PTSD. If you have not received a formal diagnosis of PTSD from an expert psychiatrist, you should get one as soon as possible. Once you get diagnosed, the psychiatrist can give you advice on how to handle your PTSD symptoms and recommend PTSD treatment strategies.
Some people benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy, a form of talk therapy that challenges negative attitudes and promotes emotional regulation. Other people prefer group therapy, as they can learn from other people’s experiences and make friends. Experiment with individual and group therapy and create a PTSD treatment regimen for yourself.
Build a support network with your friends and family and tell them if you are experiencing significant symptoms. Talk to your boss about creating a peaceful work environment that does not have triggers for your PTSD.
Respond Meaningfully to a PTSD Attack
PTSD can be overwhelming, yet it’s also within your control. As a PTSD attack occurs, you should remind yourself that you are not going through a traumatic event. You should take deep breaths, close your eyes, and calm yourself down.
Never use drugs and alcohol to reduce your symptoms. Talk to the people with you and ask them to help you out. Go to talk therapy sessions where you can address your triggers and symptoms with an experienced professional.
These tips are just the basics in dealing with PTSD. Read in-depth PTSD guides by following our coverage.