Picking Up The Peaces

PTSD Education and Awareness

Post Traumatic Stress Treatment

Admitting you have post traumatic stress and then getting treatment can be difficult and frightening.

It can be overwhelming and difficult to admit that there is something wrong. But by taking the first steps in seeking help, you begin a road to recovery.

A good place to start is to see a GP. They can help determine if there is a problem, and what might be the best approach.

“The first time I sought help, I was very skeptical. I did it for my family. How could talking help? But when I spoke to my counselor and met other people with PTSD, it did help. I realised I wasn’t alone.”

While experiencing a trauma

Taking care of yourself during a trauma can be hard and near impossible. When possible, it is recommended that you…

  • Remove yourself from the traumatic event
  • Encourage family and friends to be around
  • Seek the right pain relief
  • Maintain a healthy diet
  • Practice positive coping strategies (e.g. positive psychology)

Shortly after a trauma

It is normal to feel anxious, sad and angry, after experiencing a traumatic event. To help your recovery, it is recommended that you…

  • Take measures to feel safe
  • Only talk about the trauma if you want to
  • Know the types of emotions you may experience
  • Seek support from family & friends
  • With a friend, try to engage in activities you enjoy

If things aren’t improving… see your GP. But remember, not everyone who experiences a traumatic event develops PTSD.

A month after a trauma

If things are still not improving you should see your GP again. There are many simple screening measures your GP can use for PTSD (e.g. Naomi Breslau’s PTSD screen). During this time, it is important to…

  • Take measures to feel safe (e.g. remove yourself from the traumatic event)
  • Only talk about the trauma if you want to, and to those you trust
  • If you feel ready, allow yourself time to process the trauma
  • Try and keep a routine going
  • Relax and get some sleep
  • Spend time with loved ones and seek their support
  • Seek the right pain relief
  • Maintain a healthy diet and exercise
  • Practice positive coping strategies (e.g. positive psychology)
  • Know the types of emotions you may experience
  • With a friend, try to engage in activities you enjoy (e.g. VVF choir)

Sometimes people who go through a trauma can turn to unhealthy behaviour in a bid to cope. While this behaviour can temporarily relieve stress, anxiety and depression, they can lead to long term adverse affects. Examples of unhealthy behaviour include…

  • Use alcohol or drugs to cope
  • Keep too busy
  • Engage in stress
  • Withdraw from family and friends

After PTSD diagnosis

Once you are diagnosed with post traumatic stress, there are activities that can help you perform your daily activities. These activities produce the best results, when they are done daily.

Daily relaxation

Relaxation helps to calm and lower the hyper alert state that is a symptom of PTSD. Relaxation is also helpful for aiding people sleep.

Healthy eating

Eating junk food can enhance depressive moods and lethargy. By eating healthy foods, such as bananas, you are able to stimulate beneficial chemicals, such as serotonin, that improve your mood.

Regular exercise

People with chronic post traumatic stress can have problems with their working memory. Regular exercise is a good way of preventing and stimulating chemicals that aid in memory functions. You might be surprised to know that certain parts of the brain (e.g. hippocampus) are stimulated to make new connections when you exercise. A good type of exercise that can be enjoyed by all is Tai Chi, which also includes relaxation techniques.

Treatment

Medication shouldn’t be your only treatment, but in some cases is necessary. Instead, treatment should also, or primarily, include psychotherapy. Examples of beneficial psychotherapy include exposure therapy, and cognitive behaviour therapy (e.g. Mood Gym).

Quality of life

Living with post traumatic stress can severely impact on your quality of life. It is important to regain this quality of life by taking up activities that you once enjoyed, or new activities that you might enjoy. This should be done slowly and gradually, so as not to push yourself too hard. The aim is to have fun, relax and enjoy good company!

You might consider going to art, music, cooking or dance classes. Alternatively, you might decide to start playing chess or join a team sport. The choice is up to you. By participating in these activities you are breaking the cycle of PTSD symptoms – avoidance and withdrawal.

When things go wrong

Living with PTSD is like riding a rollercoaster. Sometimes things are fine, and then suddenly they’re not. There are places that you can go for immediate help:

For more information about organisation that you can contact, visit the Australian Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health (ACPMH) website.

After things have settled down you should make an appointment to see your health professionals, so you can stop things going wrong in the future.

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