Easing Symptoms of PTSD: Nightmares, Panic, and General Anxiety
PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) is a common ailment that is often misdiagnosed. That's because the symptoms of PTSD are similar to many other mental health disorders listed in the DSM manual. These include but are not limited to ADHD, Bipolar Disorder, Anxiety Disorders, Adjustment Disorders, Depressive Disorders, Borderline Personality Disorder, OCD, and Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Surprised?
What is Trauma?
"Trauma" is the medical term for serious injury. Psychological trauma can include experiences of imminent danger, gross instability, neglect, sexual abuse, physical violence, (including living in a war, experiencing child abuse-physical, sexual, emotional, being in a natural disaster, a terrible accident, a violent crime, etc.) Physical trauma and psychological trauma can happen together or be separate from each other.
People who have a history of trauma can feel sad, suicidal, anxious, angry, disoriented, have chronic pain, nightmares, and difficulty in relationships. Sometimes, they can have flashbacks, which is when a memory is triggered by a smell, sound, or event that brings the person back into a traumatic memory like they are experiencing it in real time. This can happen at night or during the day.
Often people who have experienced trauma, experience a half memory of what happened; the memory of the horror - in other words, what happened to them. Their response to the event gets lost in the remembering. People feel helpless, vulnerable, worthless, stupid, and most disturbing- guilty for what happened. The stories that he or she tells his or herself about the trauma can unfortunately lead the person to negative identity conclusions: I am crazy. I deserve nothing. I am fat and ugly. I am unloveable.
Treatment for Trauma
In therapy, if a person's response (i.e., how they survived) is uncovered (i.e., saved a sibling from getting hurt, worked hard in school), this can be highlighted and brought forth. The story of it can grow. And from there, it provides opportunity for new identity conclusions: I am thoughtful. I am a survivor. I stopped the legacy of abuse. I care. This helps make the memory a whole memory. In every oppression, there is some kind of protest–no matter how small–it is always there. This protest is more often than not subjugated by the abuse itself, so is rendered invisible. Therapeutic conversations help bring it out.
A person's active response always suggest what is given value by him or her. It tells what is precious in his or her life. It provides a place to stand--a place where the person is an agent in their life rather than a passive recipient of it.
Once action and values are made visible, this can decrease many of the PTSD symptoms the person experiences, including depression, anxiety, flashbacks, insomnia, low self esteem, OCD, etc.
What do you think?
By Jodi Lobozzo Aman
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LCSW-R, J. (2012, October 24). Easing Symptoms of PTSD: Nightmares, Panic, and General Anxiety, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, June 26 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2012/10/easing-symptoms-of-ptsd-nightmares-panic-and-general-anxiety
Author: Jodi Lobozzo Aman, LCSW-R
I'm sorry to hear that your therapy sessions were limited to 12 weeks. That's a frustrating restriction imposed by people outside the actual healthcare system. Your feeling that you don't think you care what happens to you is part of the numbness and depth of trauma response that occurs in complex PTSD. Recognizing that it is not coming from you yourself but from the PTSD's control can help keep that numbness from completely overtaking you. Also, when working on something like this without a therapist, it can be helpful to work in small, incremental steps. Identify one thing that you would like to be better (it can be a feeling, a thought, a behavior, a component of a relationship, etc.) What will it take to make it better? Work on it little by little. This might sound like it will take a long time to work through complex PTSD, but it truly does work. Small steps are consistent, offer little successes frequently, and are much easier to take than huge, gigantic leaps that often cause us to fall backwards. As you do this, there are also helpful books (libraries often have great psychology selections) and websites -- like HealthyPlace! -- with resources and forums where you can get information and talk to others in your situation. You can win despite nhs limiting your therapy!
An eating disorder tells me there is guilt present. Forgive yourself. The rape wasn't your fault. It wasn't. Forgive and you will have freedom. Then work on the eating behaviors, but that will be easy once you have self love. You have done it before, you can do it again. If you ever want to work together, let me know. You need a healthy diet to deal with Crohn's. And ADHD doesn't have to stop anyone from life. Also get out of isolation, begin to build a community. These are all general, but that is the best I can do without knowing you.
"In therapy, if a person’s response (i.e., how they survived) is uncovered (i.e., saved a sibling from getting hurt, worked hard in school), this can be highlighted and brought forth. The story of it can grow. And from there, it provides opportunity for new identity conclusions: I am thoughtful. I am a survivor. I stopped the legacy of abuse. I care. This helps make the memory a whole memory. In every oppression, there is some kind of protest–no matter how small–it is always there. This protest is more often than not subjugated by the abuse itself, so is rendered invisible. Therapeutic conversations help bring it out."
This is what has been happening with me for a very long time but now I am realizing it knowing that i have the power to love myself and to let the gilt and shame fall away!