“I’m losing my mind,” she told the doctor after months of out-of-control thoughts. A trigger caused an unending flashback to a traumatic event decades since past. Insomnia and nightmares took over her nights. Anger, disbelief, reliving the traumatic event, questioning everything, realizing the significance of details she had refused to think about, and negative self-talk over her inability to keep this under control wasn’t helping. She wasn’t crazy. She has PTSD.
PTSD is an anxiety disorder related to a traumatic event from one’s past. Post traumatic stress disorder takes anxiety and panic attacks to a whole new level. Some signs of PTSD include: flashbacks, nightmares, feeling in danger, insomnia, substance abuse, avoidance, anger, and reliving the event(s) over and over again making a person feel crazy or as if they are losing their mind. David Baldwin gives a very helpful quick reference for physical and emotional reactions to trauma at http://www.trauma-pages.com/s/t-facts.php.
Traumatic events causing PTSD can be an endless list. Bullying in school or the workplace, “accidents, childhood physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, criminal assault, combat, domestic violence and emotional abuse, hostage-taking situations, motor vehicle crashes, surgical medical procedures involving loss, death or near death, political or military torture, rape, terrorism, and workplace violence” (http://www.guidetopsychology.com/ptsd.htm) gives you an idea of traumatic events.
“Self-Help Strategies for PTSD” by AnxietyBC – http://www.anxietybc.com/sites/default/files/adult_hmptsd.pdf provides a quick reference tool for techniques to calm PTSD symptoms. Deep breathing, muscle relaxation, grounding, talking to someone, joining a support group, exercising, yoga, and refocusing by changing your activity or volunteering can turn an episode around. Research has shown owning a dog can help with anxiety and PTSD.
I am including PTSD in my MS blog because patients with multiple sclerosis experience anxiety and the levels of anxiety top with PTSD. Even if you don’t have PTSD, the techniques used for resolving these episodes can work for anxiety in general. Mindfulness as describe by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs on their website (http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/treatment/therapy-med/mindful-ptsd.asp) is very effective for me in controlling anxiety and intrusive thoughts. Doing away with my own judgement and negative self-talk and replacing it with acceptance of things out of my control has been a huge step in relieving anxiety.
David Baldwin states, “People who fully engage in recovery from trauma discover unexpected benefits. As they gradually heal their wounds. Survivors find that they are also developing inner strength, compassion for others, increasing self-awareness, and often the most surprising — a greater ability to experience joy and serenity than ever before.” Quite the hopeful message if you ask me.
Learn more about PTSD and anxiety relieving strategies by visiting:
“PTSD Coach Online” from U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs – http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/treatment/cope/ – great strategies such as mindfulness
“Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in Rape Survivors” by American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress – http://www.aaets.org/article178.htm
“Trauma – and PTSD” by A Guide to Psychology and its Practice” – http://www.guidetopsychology.com/ptsd.htm
“Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)” by Mayo Clinic – http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder/basics/coping-support/con-20022540
Image from traumadissociation.com.