Post-traumatic stress disorder is a difficult condition to overcome. PTSD is a modern mental illness associated with military personnel who return from war. It has received a lot of media attention because it is more prevalent than we thought and is difficult to treat.
Life-threatening experiences can provoke PTSD, especially when the afflicted undergo extreme states of fear and anxiety. Being held captive, participating in atrocities, witnessing a car accident, losing a child, or undergoing emotional abuse are also associated with its onset. The human mind is not equipped to handle excessive exposure to acts of terror or the intense emotion of certain life situations.
Whatever the cause, victims exhibit similar symptoms such as flashbacks and panic attacks. They become extremely depressed to the point of debilitation. They can be subject to triggers at any time. Thus, they may become alienated from the real world. Can anything be done? The answer is a resounding yes. There are several good tools in use to alleviate recurring nightmares, anxiety, horrific memories, and feelings of loss. Living with PTSD is no way to go through life. Other than drugs and psychotherapy, there are other methods to deal with the shame, self-loathing, chronic fatigue, and mental pain of the condition.
Having PTSD from an abusive relationship is no less debilitating than returning from military service. There are similar feelings of shame and alienation. All types of the illness have been stigmatized, as victims are accused of weakness and lack of inner strength. Nothing could be farther from the truth. A whopping 24 million Americans have PTSD, with a predominance of women. Once diagnosed, the sufferer has various options.
Medication, as mentioned, is the most obvious and often the first choice. It can cloud the mind, however, as the afflicted learns to adjust to normal life. Long-term, a PTSD sufferer needs other forms of treatment. They can co-exist with drug therapy until one or other becomes the most successful approach. It is all about detoxifying the body and mind and ridding it of the new patterns caused by an overwhelming incident or experience.
Calming the mind in a state of shock, so to speak, takes a complete approach that could include diet, exercise, yoga and meditation. Trauma cannot simply be drugged away. A good way to start is meditation to learn to connect with the memories or issues embedded in the body like deadly insect larvae waiting to hatch. Meditating is one cleansing therapy that restores one’s positive outlook on life through repetitive mantras and affirmations. It can be done any time a person starts to notice the onset of PTSD symptoms.
Diet and exercise also play no small part in a holistic approach to healing. Stress and trauma are aggravated by inflammatory foods. Good nutrition goes a long way to ridding one’s body of the toxins that inhibit proper brain functioning. The hormones and chemicals in prepared food are harmful to everyone’s health. Learning to follow a workout routine is a great companion to eating well. Doing the exercise you like best such as dancing, swimming, lifting weights, or playing sports is the panacea for PTSD, whatever the cause.
What is it about yoga, in particular, that is so magical? It hones and tones, increases flexibility, and relaxes the musculature while easing the brain. It is spiritual and physical, and the perfect holistic practice for those with PTSD. There are many types, so no one is left behind in the wake of the destruction of this insidious illness. The improvements are dramatic, making yoga the recommendation of most therapists specializing in the condition.
Healing is a bit selfish. It takes a lot of attention to yourself, perhaps at the expense of socialization. But it is necessary to regain a sense of oneself. Setting aside some quiet time will help you disconnect from the negative associations that trigger your PTSD. It is like becoming numb for a time and making yourself a priority. You can focus on your breathwork as you do in yoga and meditation for extra benefit.
When your brain is drenched with too many stimuli, putting you in fight-or-flight mode, it needs time to decompress. Time alone for reflection and breath control is a great stress reliever. Think of it as self-hypnosis. In fact, some people enjoy listening to tapes designed by therapists. Some people also like to keep a journal as a way to retreat from the world for a time. It is wise, however, to limit yourself to only positive observations.
All of these tools and therapies will help you progress on your healing journey. You can share them with people in your support group or friends and family. It will make you feel good to have a purpose in life, such as helping others deal with their problems. Keeping busy or making yourself useful is always a good answer to the ravages of PTSD. Many victims like volunteering, getting part-time work, or rescuing a pet. If you would rather keep a low profile, there is always gardening, scrapbooking, video games, cooking, and the arts. Everything you add to your life will give you the strength to overcome the past and begin over again.
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