How to live with PTSD: support and recovery from disorder
In view of the current events in Ukraine, the term “post-traumatic stress disorder” (PTSD) is used more and more often.
What is PTSD? Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that may occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a war or combat, natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act or rape.
You are not alone! Statistics of PTSD prevalence
About 50% of people experience a traumatic event at some point in their lives. If to distribute this statistics by gender, then 6 of 10 men and every other woman experience at least one trauma in their lives. Men are more likely to experience accidents, physical assault, disaster, or to witness death or injury. Women are more likely to experience sexual assault and child sexual abuse. However, women are twice as likely as men to have the PTSD.
The prevalence of the PTSD in the countries where military operations occurred is 11% to 50% of population. Taking into consideration the current events in Ukraine, this percent will be much higher.
What to do if you are diagnosed with PTSD?
If you have recently been told that you have post-traumatic stress disorder, you may feel anxious or afraid of this diagnosis. Probably having a clear understanding of what you have felt so far will bring you some relief. No matter what you feel, the most important thing is to know that you are not alone.
Your emotions. At the beginning, after you are diagnosed, it is very normal to feel like you are on an emotional roller coaster ride: from relief that your problem has a definition, to shock and denying that it is happening to you. All these feelings are normal.
Keep communicating. Share your feeling with your loved ones, friends, family or a qualified specialist. You may also want to confidentially talk with your employer/manager so that he/she understands what you are going through and can provide you with the level of support you need. Even changing the position of the work table can have a positive effect on your state.
Treatment and support. There are many medical and non-medical options that can help improve your state, including yoga, equine-assisted therapy, ketogenic diet, running.
How to help yourself manage PTSD in everyday life?
Embrace daily routines. Daily rituals: shower, work, lunch on schedule, housekeeping — all this may help managing the PTSD signs.
Ask for help. If you need some adjustments to help you succeed at school or work, don’t be afraid to ask. For example, if you are having trouble concentrating, ask to take tests in a quieter room, or ask to move to a quieter room in the office.
Get support. If you have supportive friends and family members, let them know what you need — a walk, coffee dates or just a sympathetic ear. You can also try to find a support group (in person or online) to connect with others who have experienced similar issues.
Avoid drugs, alcohol and smoking. Yes, it can be tempting to use substances to escape the hard parts of PTSD. But substance use can be dangerous and will make your recovery harder in the long run.
Don’t be too hard on yourself. PTSD can cause feelings of guilt, shame and anger. When you’re feeling down, it can help to remember this advice. It will help to recall that it’s not you, it’s the stress disorder.
PTSD is possible to be completely cured, but it is not always simple or easy. What if your recovery doesn't go the way you wanted it to? Maybe the treatment seems too long or you just do not feel the changes?
There may be reasons why the treatment does not work for you as quickly as you would like. Here are some examples that may slow down or prevent treatment from being as effective as it can be:
- You feel unworthy. Don't listen to those who don't know about PTSD, and you shouldn't listen too closely to the internal discourse that say, "It won't work”.
- You move too fast. Your brain, emotions and mind must work together, therefore, do not speed up the recovery process. Take the time you need.
- You take the wrong road. You may have approached some element of recovery that led you away from the main trauma. This often happens to people with PTSD. Stop and try to recognize this feeling.
- Control. It's normal to use control as a way to "stay safe", but for a full recovery, you need a free and open environment to work.
- You are overwhelmed. Going through the treatment can be a complicated task — you feel worse than ever before, and therefore, the recovery can seem a long way to go.
- Emotional and other costs. Recovery can be a costly process in terms of your feelings, relationships, money and time. However, understanding that you can return to your "former self" is worth it.
- Self-confidence. You may not feel confident enough to get on the right path to recovery, therefore, follow the advice of the professionals.
- Responsibility. You need to emotionally "accept" the treatment and recovery — without it you will be detached from the goal.
If you have any of these feelings, talk to your therapist or loved one to make your life with PTSD easier.