By Julia Merrill
PTSD affects nearly 8 million Americans, and a good many of those are military veterans.
Spending time in combat or witnessing traumatic events can have a huge effect on an individual emotionally, mentally, and physically, sometimes even years after the fact. PTSD–post traumatic stress disorder–can also affect relationships, as sufferers often have trust issues and friends and family members don’t understand what their loved one is going through. In the worst cases, it can lead to suicide.
The good news is, there are several different types of therapy and treatment specifically for veterans living with PTSD. Medication is one way to go, but there are several other paths one can take. It all depends on the individual and their needs, so if you try one and feel frustration set in, remember that no method will work the same for any two people. Consider reaching out for help from a counselor or therapist in tailoring a treatment plan that works for you.
Here are a few of the best tips in dealing with PTSD and its effects.
Take care of yourself
It’s imperative to take good care of yourself in every way. Eat a well-balanced diet, get daily exercise, and be sure to focus on your emotional needs as well. Yoga and meditation have been named as some of the best ways to relax when PTSD is present, in part because it allows for the individual to focus on the present, using breath control and concentrated movement. Remember to give yourself plenty of time to wind down and de-stress, whether that means taking a hot bath or playing a game of pickup basketball with friends.
Consider getting help from an animal
Animals, particularly dogs and horses, are well-known stress reducers. Simply petting a dog has been shown in studies to lower blood pressure; this is part of the reason why they are recommended for sufferers of PTSD and mood disorders such as depression. Service animals can help ease anxiety and provide good company, but if you can’t have a pet due to a living situation, consider working with animals at a local shelter or farm.
PTSD can make communication difficult, but it’s important to let your family know how you’re feeling in a healthy way when you start to feel anxious or stressed. Violent behavior or outbursts are common in individuals with PTSD, so figuring out a way to vent that won’t affect your family is imperative. Keep a journal and write in it daily; this can help you sort out your feelings before you begin a conversation with someone. Creative writing is also a great way to relieve some of the anxieties you may have.
For more on some of the communication difficulties related to PTSD, check out: http://www.healmyptsd.com/10-tips
Creative therapy has proven to be a perfect way for many sufferers of PTSD to find relief. Even if you don’t feel you are a creative person, don’t let that hold you back; many people find they are inspired and embark on a new hobby or even a new career. You can try writing, drawing, painting, cooking, sewing, dancing, singing, songwriting, or acting; all of these can help you get in touch with your creative side and allow you to vent many negative feelings.
Remember that you are not alone; there are professionals waiting to help you find the best ways to live a healthy, fulfilled life.
For a list of resources related to post traumatic stress disorder, be sure to visit our PTSD Resource Page.
To read a guide elaborating on some of the struggles related to PTSD, visit: http://www.drugrehab.org/addiction-suicide-veterans/
Julia Merrill is a retired board-certified nurse practitioner. Her experiences have prompted her to find means to bridge the gap between those who receive care and those who provide it through her new blog befirendyourdoc.org.