13 ways to cope with post-traumatic stress disorder

In PTSD, the nervous system is ‘stuck’ i.e., unable to return to its normal state of equilibrium and finds it extremely tough to move on from the traumatic incident

By Mohita Shrivastava

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Published: Thu 9 Feb 2023, 8:08 PM

Following a harrowing, distressing or painful traumatic incident such as war or terror attack or violence, rape or sexual assault, accident, natural disaster such as earthquake, detecting a life-threatening condition, it is natural and inevitable to be upset, anxious, gloomy, frightened and detached. After experiencing a stress or trauma our nervous system reacts with fight-or-flight response in the form of physiological symptoms as well as psychological issues that fade away once the danger is lifted. But what if these feelings don’t dwindle and persist for long? If so, it leads to a psychological form of suffering, a kind of mental illness known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In PTSD the nervous system is ‘stuck’ i.e., unable to return to its normal state of equilibrium and finds it extremely tough to move on from the traumatic incident.

PTSD usually gets triggered by ‘external or internal triggers’ that hark back to the original traumatic occurrence. The symptoms of PTSD may last for months or years and include intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, nightmares, physical sensations, insomnia, hypervigilance or ‘red alert’, aggressiveness, alienated, feelings of guilt and shame, cognitive problems like disturbed memory, focus and attention. The consequences of PTSD can be widespread, demolishing and debilitating on one’s mental and physical health, work, and relationships and may even lead to substance abuse, anxiety/panic attacks or depression.

What are the strategies to combat PTSD?

Understanding the salubrious and beneficial strategies for dealing with PTSD can offer a platter of rejuvenation, optimism, and a confident life ahead and includes coping strategies and treatment approaches.

Coping strategies:

1) Self-care: grooming, exercising, mindfulness

2) Keeping an object which relates to the present will help to comfort and remind oneself being currently in a safe environment

3) Creative writing will help in catharsis and uplift the mind after creating something original

4) Making a journal of beautiful memories/songs/thoughts/images help the mind turn towards positivity

5) Go to a spiritual abode for gaining strength and calmness

6) Engage yourself in nature’s walk and nature’s work like cleaning a source of natural water, gardening, planting

7) Allow catharsis in a creative or expressive form to vent out trauma and invite healing

8) Confide to a close friend/family/confidante

9) Reaching out to someone in need is a great way to connect and regain one’s lost sense of control

10) Take genuine care of a pet and feed them

11) Arranging things/shelves/clothes/books etc., in a soothing manner

12) Practise cognitive exercises to enhance cognitive functions

13) Practise neuroscientific meditation — Brain wave entertainment

Treatment approaches

• Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioural Therapy involves gradually ‘exposing’ oneself to feelings and situations that reminds one of the traumas and replacing distorted thoughts with balanced picture

• Guidance and counselling sessions

• Join PTSD support groups

• EMDR — Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing uses eye movements or other forms of rhythmic, left-right stimulation, hand taps/sounds thereby unfreezing the brain's information processing system that has been interrupted due to trauma

• Dialectical Behaviour Therapy

• Pharmacotherapy (using medicines)

It is therefore important to grasp that though certain incidents in life are fated, there are always ‘ways to react normally’ to ‘abnormal events’. Recuperating from PTSD helps mend your brain and mind to get ‘unstuck’ thereby facilitating healing from the trauma.


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