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Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Counseling and Treatment

PTSD Counseling and Treatment

Recovering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder / Trauma/ PTSD can often be a slow and difficult process. When you are struggling with PTSD, it can be hard to handle the past events and the fear, nightmares, and flashbacks experienced due to it. But confronting your experiences and emotions, and seeking mental health professionals' help could be a beneficial and effective treatment for PTSD.

It could be possible you feel like traumatic experiences happened over the years and it seems all good. But if you are feeling struggling and challenged, reaching out to seek help is okay. It is never too late to seek it. You are not alone and your mental health is important.

This post covers information on what PTSD is, major causes of it, physical symptoms, different types of treatments, what can you do to deal with and heal from traumatic experiences, and self-help for PTSD.

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What Causes PTSD?

American Psychological Association defines Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as, “a psychiatric disorder (traumatic stress disorder) that may occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, or rape or who have been threatened with death, sexual violence or serious injury.”

One can develop Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after a very stressful, traumatic, and distressing event or incident. The period of experiencing traumatic experience and developing into PTSD can vary from individual to individual.

Some of the common causes of traumatic stress disorder are serious or fatal accidents, physical, emotional, or sexual assault or abuse, different abuses like domestic or teenagers period, stressful work environment, serious health conditions, torture, etc. As per studies conducted by researchers, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) develops in about 1 in 3 people who went through traumatic situations and experiences.

Managing Fear, Nightmares, and Flashbacks

After traumatic events, many want to move on and feel better. But even though many experience fears, nightmares, and flashbacks that put them in a rough spot and stuck.

It is an important part to understand when to seek and ask for help. Psychologists, therapists, counselors, doctors are experts in treating PTSD through different treatment options available to support.

A lot of people experience fears, nightmares, and flashbacks which may or may not make sense and seem unrelated. To manage your fears, nightmares, and flashbacks, you can take one or some or all of the following tips

  1. Reach out and talk about your fears, flashbacks, and nightmares with a trusted friend or a trauma therapist. Talking can make you feel better and you may feel fears, nightmares, and flashbacks that have less control over you.

  2. Write about your fears, flashbacks, and nightmares. It helps you reflect on your thoughts and get clarity. Also, it gives you an opportunity to change the ending and write a positive outcome which may help you control your fears and nightmares better.

  3. Try to create visualizations and it doesn’t have to be a masterpiece. But you can visualize having positive thoughts, experiences, good sleep, nightmares, fears, and flashbacks no longer troubling you and you are growing and recovering.

Healing From Trauma

There are different types of trauma that are caused by different reasons and treated differently. However, there are some common self-help tips that you may find helpful and effective to heal and move on.

  1. Acknowledge Your Challenges. The first step to healing is acknowledging and accepting your traumatic challenges and experiences. Recovery from PTSD is an ongoing gradual process. It does not happen overnight. It takes time but you can take many steps to handle and cope up to reduce the PTSD symptoms like anxiety and fear.

Taking your small steps helps you feel empowered & encouraged and makes you feel less helpless. Going through trauma makes you feel helpless and leaves you in a vulnerable state. This is why it is important to remind yourself that you have strengths and you can get through them by taking small steps.

  1. Learn more about Trauma and PTSD. Even though you are experiencing a traumatic disorder, you might be unaware of what is happening to you and what you can do to cope with it. This is why collecting and gaining more information on Trauma and PTSD allows you to understand it better and process that information to treat your traumatic experiences. Some of the resources that you may find helpful can be a Self Help Guide, checking out resources in the trauma forums , joining trauma support groups, trauma growth path, etc. Utilizing all of these resources will help you understand and acknowledge what you are going through better.

  2. Practice Relaxation Techniques. Traumatic experiences can be stressful and to calm yourself and relax, you can use some of the relaxation techniques. It will help you manage your stress symptoms. The different relaxation techniques you can practice - Deep Breathing, Progressive Muscle Relaxation, Body Scan Meditation, Visualization, Self- massage, Mindfulness Meditation, Exercise and movements, Yoga and Tai Chi, etc.

Learning the basics of these techniques and applying them on a daily basis is the key to feeling relaxed and stress relieved. You can use 10-20 minutes daily to practice one or some of them or all of these techniques to feel relaxed.

  1. Reach out for Support PTSD can make you feel lonely and alone. You can feel disconnected from others and may not be comfortable reaching out for support. But, it is helpful to stay connected with people and reach out and seek help. It is okay to seek help. You can confide in someone you trust and share how you are feeling. You may not feel comfortable opening up or sharing your feelings related to traumatic experiences and it is okay. Take your time and connect with others.

Reach out to someone with whom you can share how you are feeling without any interruptions and someone who can listen and support you without judging. If you may not have that someone in your life, you can take the help of online resources like 7 Cups Sharing Circle Sessions

  1. Get Professional Help. If you are suspecting you have post-traumatic stress disorder, it is important to get help. The sooner you get treatment, the sooner you will be able to overcome it. Please know PTSD is not a sign of weakness but a challenge that anyone can experience. Just like anyone can catch the flu but get treated, one reaches out to a doctor and takes precautions to get better. Similarly, if suffering from mental health issues, reaching out to a therapist for therapy or even online therapy is a good step you are taking to get treated well. With the help of an experienced therapist, you get all the support and guidance you need to get through the recovery process.

The Physical Symptoms

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder often develops with other mental illnesses like anxiety disorders, depression, or other mental health issues as well as physical pain. Physical pain is one of the most common symptoms of PTSD because many would have experienced some trauma that is physical and can cause pain.

Backache, body aches, migraines, headaches, tension, panic attacks, sleep disturbances, insomnia, muscle tension and stress, stomach aches, racing hearts, sweating, fatigue, and other physical issues can show up as physical symptoms of PTSD. Mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, substance abuse, etc can trigger physical symptoms.

Dealing with PTSD Through Psychotherapy

Treatment of PTSD can help you cope up with the symptoms of traumatic events. A counselor or a therapist or a doctor would encourage you, listen and support you, provide you guidance and plan the steps to recovery with you. They will help you process your emotions and experiences effectively.

During treatment, you will identify your triggers, identify your emotions, experiences, and feelings that cause you fears, flashbacks, or nightmares, and work through your guilt, fears and how to cope up with all intrusive thoughts and memories and solve the problems of PTSD caused in your family, lives, and relationships.

As the trigger can vary from person to person, the PTSD treatment will also vary. But an online therapist can help you figure out the PTSD treatment that you need. The different PTSD treatment options for posttraumatic stress disorder include Trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy, Family therapy, Medication, EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), Cognitive Processing Therapy, Trauma Therapy, exposure therapy, group therapy, and other Cognitive Therapies used to heal and support PTSD sufferers.

If you are looking for a therapist, seek out mental health professionals who are experts in the treatment of trauma and PTSD. It is important that you feel comfortable, safe, and understood in order to feel better. Take your small steps and know you are not alone.

Featured Contributors

Jamie Rautenberg, LCSW

Jamie is a licensed clinical social worker and holistic life coach with 10 years of experience blending her background in the arts with her education to best meet her clients needs.

Lisa Meighan, MBPsS

Lisa is a licensed mental health counselor with an eclectic style of therapy to fit every client

Emily Jacobs

Emily Jacobs is a freelance healthcare writer based in Toledo, Ohio.

Julie Ford

Julie is a Michigan-based writer with a passion for mental health advocacy.