Five Tips to Help Manage PTSD
“My life literally flashed before my eyes!” and “I feared for my life!” are phrases that people often use overzealously. Oftentimes, we say these types of things to help convey to others the dramatics of a situation they were not present for. However, occasionally these phrases hold true, and sometimes when we experience something that makes us feel this way, it can leave a long-lasting negative impact. For most, stressful feelings following exposure to a serious situation go away in time. For others, these feelings spiral out of control and turn into post-traumatic stress disorder. That is not to suggest that those with PTSD are destined to suffer, as there are useful tips for managing symptoms of PTSD.
Symptoms of PTSD
Symptoms of PTSD include:
- Re-living the trauma over and over
- Nightmares about the event
- Avoiding reminders of the event (activities, places, thoughts, feelings)
- Emotional and physical anxiety when reminded of the trauma
- Emotional detachment
- Difficulty concentrating
Tips for How to Manage PTSD
Propranolol is a beta-blocker, used primarily as a heart medication. It also inhibits chemicals in the brain that are responsible for causing stress. It eases the physical symptoms of anxiety, which have been linked to the development of PTSD. If you have lived through a traumatic event, it is best to receive this treatment within a few hours of said occurrence to lessen the chance of symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder developing. During a stressful situation, adrenaline is released, causing the heart rate and blood pressure to rise. This has been shown to strengthen the negative memories of traumatic occurrences, as well as condition a fear response. Propranolol disables adrenaline’s ability to do its job, therefore eliminating these effects. In a study, a group of people who had been through a trauma were administered 40 mg of Propranolol six hours afterwards, or a placebo. An additional 40 mg was taken for the following 10 days. One month afterwards, those who received the treatment had a PTSD rate of 18%, while those who took a placebo had a rate of 30%, says Psychiatric Times.
- Exposure Therapy
Exposure therapy is a way for those who suffer with PTSD and other mental disorders to face the fears that cause them anxiety. If you have symptoms of PTSD, you most likely avoid places and activities that remind you of the trauma you experienced. While this is normal, it is more helpful to face those fears, so that they do not act as a hindrance to you. This can be difficult, and jarring, which is why AnxietyBC suggests making a list of all of the things that you fear, facing the ones that are least frightening first and working your way upwards. This is called a fear ladder. Each fear is to be worked on until it no longer produces anxiety, allowing you to then move on to the next rung on your ladder.
Exercising is recommended for the majority of healthy individuals who are physically capable of doing so. It helps us maintain good health, mentally and physically, so it makes sense that those with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder could benefit from daily exercise. Not only is exercise good for our bodies, it is a great way of releasing physical tension and boosting self-confidence. Outdoor activities have been shown to help veterans with PTSD transition back to normal life, says Helpguide.org, as strenuous activities in nature can help patients challenge their sense of helplessness.
Isolating oneself is a common symptom of PTSD, as connecting to others may be challenging. However, it is important to reach out to those around you, as having a positive support system can help you overcome the challenges of your disorder. Additionally, support groups exist so that those with post-traumatic stress disorder can come together in a safe, supportive environment to share experiences and advice about how to cope with symptoms of PTSD.
- Clinical Trials
Clinical trials are a useful tool for those with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and other medical conditions. Researchers attempt to uncover the best treatments for PTSD, with the highest level of efficacy and a low level of risk. To do this, volunteer subjects are recruited so that experimental medications, therapies, and medical apparatus can be tested on them. If you take part in a clinical trial, it is possible that you will be among the first group of people to receive an innovative treatment for PTSD. Even if that is not the case, there is still a great likelihood that you will be paid for your time, as a large portion of medical trials provide monetary compensation for those who participate.
The PTSD definition is one that includes flashbacks, hyper-vigilance, insomnia, social disconnect and a variety of other negative symptoms following exposure to a traumatic event. Though it is not fully preventable, there are tips to help those who have it cope with the disorder. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a condition that can cause a significant amount of anxiety and frustration, but using the techniques listed above may help provide you with some relief and normalcy.
To learn more about Los Angeles clinical trials for PTSD or other forms of medical issues, contact the Pacific Institute of Medical Research, which is an independent clinical research site specializing in psychiatry since 1982. Visit us online or call us at (310) 208-7144.