PTSD: Building Resilience After Trauma

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In the wake of the 2020 global pandemic, people are struggling to try to balance their mental and physical health. The Dose of Wellness campaign shines a spotlight on the interconnectivity of mental and physical health—they are, essentially, one and the same.

A common, and undertreated condition that many of us experience is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. PTSD can develop after someone experiences or witnesses a life-threatening or terrifying event. Combat, natural disaster, physical or sexual assault, or serious accidents are a just few examples of events that may cause PTSD symptoms. It’s normal to have flashbacks, feel on edge, or have trouble sleeping after these types of events, but if symptoms last more than a few months it may be a sign of PTSD.

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Some common PTSD symptoms include:

  • Recurring memories or reliving the event while sleeping
  • Avoiding certain situations, or abusing substances to numb the pain
  • Overwhelming guilt, a lack of trust, or inability to feel happy around loved ones
  • Hyperarousal or changes in physical and emotional reaction, including sudden rushes of anger or irritability, feeling jittery, always being on guard, or feeling easily set off by loud noises or events

Luckily, there are many treatment options for those suffering PTSD symptoms. Cognitive Processing Therapy and Prolonged Exposure Therapy, two forms of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), are both effective recovery options. More than just talking, therapy sessions can help you learn skills to manage your PTSD symptoms. Cognitive Processing Therapy trains you to change negative thoughts about your trauma, while Prolonged Exposure helps you confront memories you’ve been avoiding since the trauma.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, or EMDR, is another form of therapy that can help reframe a traumatic event for individuals. EMDR approaches recovery by asking individuals to do rapid eye movements while thinking about feelings and events that distress them. This process continues until the individual starts to find peaceful resolution.

Finally, medication can be another beneficial option. Antidepressants, such as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) and Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs), help your brain react differently to traumatic events and manage PTSD symptoms. Though medication can have effective results, it is important to consult with your doctor before moving forward.

People can develop PTSD at any age. If gone untreated, these symptoms of trauma will prevent the person struggling with PTSD from building resilience and moving past the trauma. Make the effort to embrace mental health conversations with your family, with your friends, and with your neighbors. In learning together, we can take a dose of wellness and build healthy, thriving communities. Take the pledge to recognize the signs and symptoms PTSD, and help your loved ones get the help they need.

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