What is PTSD Self-Help? And Where to Find It
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) self-help is defined as self-guided improvement; doing things on your own or within a PTSD support group to help yourself manage the symptoms of PTSD and the effects PTSD has had on your life. One of the most important ways you can help yourself is to learn all you can about PTSD, including PTSD causes, symptoms and treatments. In addition, finding a therapist who is experienced in treating trauma-related disorders, including PTSD, can be very helpful in the healing process.
We’ve included where to get self-help for PTSD and self-help techniques for PTSD, so keep reading on.
Where to Get Self-Help for PTSD?
You can get PTSD self-help information and guidance from the Veteran’s Adminstration (VA), from PTSD self-help books, and through PTSD self-help worksheets as well as using other tools and mental health management skills provided in therapy. PTSD support groups are another important form of PTSD self-help.
The Veteran’s Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, has various resources on its website, including how to get in touch with the VA in your area and a section on the disorder. The PTSD page includes information about where to find peer support groups and also about an app, called PTSD Coach, that can help you track your symptoms and more.
Another way to find PTSD support groups is through your county mental health agency, community mental health centers and local veterans groups. Your doctor may also be able to direct you to support groups in your area.
Support groups, either led by a professional or peer-run, focus on personal day-to-day experiences of living and coping with PTSD. These groups offer you a chance to connect with other people who are going through the same or similar struggles. This helps remove the sense of isolation that often comes with PTSD. While they won’t necessarily reduce symptoms, support groups complement traditional treatment by providing an additional outlet to work through what you’re dealing with.
Get PTSD Self-Help Through Books and Worksheets
PTSD self-help books cover topics such as demystifying PTSD treatment options and guidance on how to cope with symptoms. There are also PTSD self-help workbooks, such as The PTSD Workbook, and other books featuring stories from survivors of trauma. These can help remove the sense of isolation through identification with another person’s experience. These books can be found online or in the self-help section at bookstores.
PTSD self-help worksheets are tools to help track how you are affected by your PTSD symptoms and how to make positive changes. The worksheets tend to focus on things such as identifying triggers and associated feelings, which is a step in learning how to manage them. These worksheets can be obtained through medical professionals, some self-help books, and online.
Self-Help Techniques for PTSD
PTSD self-help can be as simple as going back to the basics and as involved as a lifestyle change. Here are a few self-help methods to cope with PTSD and its symptoms.
- Use grounding techniques. You can cope with PTSD anxiety by controlling your anxious breathing, being aware of your surroundings, and many other anxiety grounding techniques. Practicing these can help you cope with triggers and bring you out of an anxious or dissociative state and back to the present world.
- Challenge negative thoughts and feelings of helplessness. When facing feelings of worthlessness or self-blame, it’s best to stop and think, ‘Is that really true?’ Also try to think of reasons the thought isn’t true. This will likely be a challenge. In the beginning, asking a loved one to help may be beneficial.
- Create or maintain a healthy lifestyle. Eating healthy, getting enough sleep and exercise, and avoiding use of drugs and alcohol are ways to contribute to a healthy lifestyle, which contributes to positive mental health.
Not everyone will choose the same PTSD self-help methods, and that’s okay. It’s a matter of knowing what options are available and forming a plan that will work for you. PTSD can make things challenging, but self-help can make those challenges more manageable.
Last Updated: 20 May 2018
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD