A traumatic experience can bring out our fight or flight response. It is a natural reaction that enables us to fight appropriately to danger, we face. Once the danger passes, the fear too tends to fade away. However, when you continue to relive the memories of trauma, or feel anxious or fearful in similar settings, long after (month or years) the event has passed, such that it affects your ability to function normally in day to day activities, this condition is termed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), is a mental health condition caused by witnessing or experiencing a terrifying event like a serious accident, death of a loved one, living in a war zone, torture, natural disaster, sexual or physical assault. The haunting memories of such incidents are the main reasons for developing PTSD.
If you have witnessed or experienced such negative incidents, the symptoms of PTSD like repetitive memories, extreme distress, avoiding people and feeling numb, negative beliefs, intense worries, depression, anger, guilt, difficulty in sleep and poor concentration can really clutter your life.1
Not everyone who has experienced a traumatic event would get PTSD, however, if it has been more than a couple of months, and you are still haunted by the event, it is advisable to get a medical opinion, as you may be suffering from PTSD.
There are ways to handle PTSD naturally without it having a crippling impact on your life.
How To Deal With Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?
Maintain a Healthy Diet and Physical Activity
There are many studies that suggest there may be a negative association among PTSD, physical activity, and eating behaviors. A healthy diet is very important if you have PTSD. It is advisable that you have a balanced diet. When you eliminate or lessen processed food, fried food, refined starches and sugar from your diet you also eliminate triggers that can worsen or cause mood swings and energy fluctuations.
At the same time, regular exercises would also prove beneficial for you to fight PTSD. You can try walking for 30 mins daily early in the morning or even jogging, swimming, and dancing. Basketball and other sports can also help you fight PTSD. You can also try rock climbing, boxing or martial arts as these activities help you in maintaining the focus on your body movements. Exercise helps in stimulating the brain’s release of endorphins which are responsible for producing feelings of well-being. Also, by exercising, your body gets tired and you easily get sleep.2
Social Interaction is vital
Usually, those suffering from PTSD tend to feel alienated, therefore, keep to themselves and avoid interactions. However, interactions are important. To make interactions easy and free-flowing, you need to get rid of anxiety and calm yourself. Here’s what you can do, before meeting anyone, you could try to find a few moments alone and swing your arms, legs; move around to get that anxiety out of your system. It’s a warm-up of sorts that helps dissipate build up anxiety.
Interactions, with people who care about you, can help in calming your nervous system. Try to not block out your family or friends.
Trauma also creates a sense of vulnerability and helplessness, chipping at your confidence. To regain your confidence and get a sense of accomplishment, consider helping others by volunteering your time, giving blood or donating to your favorite charity.
Joining support groups for survivors of the same type of trauma can help you feel less isolated. It also helps you address your health issues better by discussing together with your peers.3
Try Relaxation Techniques
Relaxing is a great way to fight PTSD as it helps to calm you down. You need to relax both mentally and physically. Every time you get worked up, you can channelise your energy to focus on breathing. Deep breathing not only calms your nerves, it also takes your attention from negative thoughts as you concentrate on your breathing. Also, you should be relaxing your muscles. You can practice progressive muscle relaxation which focuses on tensing and relaxing your muscles. Other popular relaxation techniques include meditation, massage or yoga.
Avoid Alcohol And Drugs
Often people use alcohol or drugs to distract themselves from stress or difficult memories. However, substance abuse can actually worsen the symptoms. Drinking/substance abuse could cause one to isolate further and shun any social interaction; lack of company could further push one into depression; or anger. Not only do these come in the way of treatment, these habits to further cause of rift in personal relationship and hinder professional life.
PTSD and alcohol consumption usually portray as a big trouble for the trauma survivor and his/her family. So, it is best to avoid alcohol and drugs. If it is difficult for you to come out of alcohol and drug addiction, it would be appropriate to visit your therapist and support groups that help you with your drinking problems.4
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is vital for every human being. However, not getting a decent sleep is usually accounted as a common symptom among PTSD patients. It is important to get a sound sleep, between 7 to 9 hours, every night. A well-rest body is able to fight stress, anger, irritability and moodiness, effectively.
Interestingly, your daytime habits and activities affect your sleep. Therefore, exercising regularly and limiting intake of coffee, tea, cola or chocolate will help to get sound sleep.
Exercising allows you to channelise your mind on the given activity, diverting it away from negative thoughts. It is also important to create a relaxing and soothing ambience, so keep your bedroom gadget-free, have dark shades to block light out.
While these are some ways to manage PTSD, in case, these don’t work for you, do consult a psychologist.
|↑1||Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Mind Health Connect.|
|↑2||Hall, Katherine S., Katherine D. Hoerster, and William S. Yancy. “Post-traumatic stress disorder, physical activity, and eating behaviors.” Epidemiologic reviews 37.1 (2015): 103-115.|
|↑3||Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – Symptoms, Treatment, and Self-Help for PTSD, HelpGuide.org.|
|↑4||PTSD and Problems with Alcohol Use, National Center For PTSD|