Helping someone with PTSD requires a thorough understanding of the condition and the application of mental health first aid. Some tips and strategies may help support a loved one who has experienced trauma.
Here, we explore what PTSD is, including its possible causes, treatment, and support.
What Does PTSD Stand For
PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental health condition brought on by witnessing or going through a traumatic event. These include natural disasters, severe vehicular accidents, terrorist acts, war or combat, sexual assault, violence, or those who have dealt with life-or-death experiences.
It is common for people to have recurring flashbacks, nightmares, and intrusive thoughts following a traumatic experience. PSTD has a lasting consequence of trauma ordeals, which is how the body’s nervous system reacts after something terrible happens.
It is known as the fight or flight response of the body, where the heart beats faster, the blood pressure rises, and the muscles become tighter.
The condition has been called many names, such as shell shock during World War I and combat figure following World War II. While many of these conditions roots back from these kinds of experiences, it is important to note that this disorder does not only exists in veterans.
PTSD can happen to anyone, regardless of age, ethnicity, nationality, culture, and other outside factors.
Approximately 12% of the Australian population will experience post-traumatic stress disorder at some point in their life.
Women are twice likely to have the condition, and it is common in more likely to occur in some professions than in others. These include police and security officers, paramedics, firefighters, and emergency care workers.
Recovery from PTSD will involve helping the nervous system become unstuck, allowing it to heal and move on from trauma.
The symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder are grouped into four main categories.
The person re-experiences the event through flashbacks, intrusive thoughts or memories, and flashbacks. There might also be an intense physical or mental reaction when reliving the trauma.
Steering clear of people, places, objects, and situations that triggers unpleasant memories. These often lead to social isolation and detachment from family and friends.
The person develops arousal and reactive symptoms such as extreme irritability, angry outbursts, or reckless and self-destructive behaviour. They may also have difficulty concentrating or sleeping and is easily startled by anything.
Negative mood and condition
Loneliness, feeling alienated, depression, and hopelessness are some changes that a person with PTSD will experience. They may also suffer from shame, guilt, or self-blame over simple matters.
PTSD diagnosis may be mild, moderate, or severe. It may be described differently in some situations, such as delayed onset, birth trauma, or complex PTSD.
Mental Health First Aid for PTSD
Living with PTSD symptoms can be overwhelming. The good news is that there are mental health practices that might help.
Meditation is a practice of self-care that allows you to be more mindful and aware of the present moment. Mindfulness practice pushes you to be conscious of body sensations, thoughts, and feelings, which helps determine PTSD triggers.
Practising meditation also helps others with this condition to overcome uncomfortable thoughts and allow them to pass without judgement.
PTSD and regular physical exercises can be a beneficial combination.
Physical exercises help boost mood and improve symptoms such as anxiety and irritability. Engaging in such activities can also be a source of happy hormones that provide relief from negative views of the world.
Reach out to others for support
Another downside of PTSD is being disconnected from others resulting in social withdrawal and isolation. However, staying connected with relevant people is essential in this condition.
Reach out to people who will listen without judgement or criticism. The person may be your partner, significant other, relative, friend, or professional therapist.
Recovery from PTSD is often a gradual and ongoing process. The symptoms may not disappear completely, but self-help strategies and treatment will help manage them more effectively.
Treatment and intervention also help with having fewer and less intense symptoms and gives you greater flexibility to manage feelings relating to trauma.
Mental Health First Aid course explores the symptoms and causes of PTSD and its treatment options.
With the right information and tools, you can be the difference.