Tips To Help Veterans Recover From PTSD
Many veterans face a difficult path when they return home from their service. They feel isolated and have trouble readjusting to civilian life. Veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) particularly have a challenging time. This post looks at the symptoms of PTSD is and provides some steps for recovery.
Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
When someone experiences a life-threatening event, the nervous system reacts in one of three ways: 1. People engage with others in order to calm themselves down. 2. They go into “fight-or-flight” mode. 3. They experience so much stress that they become “stuck.” This is PTSD. Some veterans don’t experience symptoms for months or years after returning home.
There are four commons groups of symptoms. First, people experience intrusive thoughts about the event. This includes nightmares and flashbacks. Some people also experience physical reactions like shaking. The second group of symptoms includes avoiding anything that relates to the event. This includes people or places that might trigger memories of the event. The third group of symptoms includes negative moods and feelings of guilt or fear. People who experience these symptoms also find it difficult to feel any positive feelings. The final group of symptoms includes being irritable and hyper-vigilant. When people experience these symptoms they are also likely to be impatient and act recklessly.
How to Recover
- Exercise — Exercise is important to recovery. Not only does it help improve many health problems like obesity and diabetes, it also helps eliminate depression and anxiety. One study looked at adolescents with PTSD. It found that when they “took part in an aerobic exercise program for 40 minutes, three times per week, for a total of 8 weeks, [they] experienced a reduction in PTSD symptoms, anxiety, and depression” (Tull). When you exercise it’s important to focus on your body. By getting in touch with your body, you’ll help yourself become “unstuck.”
- Positive Association — When you feel upset it’s a good idea to try to control your emotions. You can accomplish this with mindful breathing. Count each breath and really focus your attention on each one. This will help bring you back to the present moment. Sometimes it helps to give your senses some positive input. For example, some people find certain smells calm them or a particular song makes them happy. When you feel negative emotions you can turn to the things that bring you comfort.
- Connect With Others — It’s important that you have someone who you can talk to about your feelings. You don’t have to open up to everybody, but you should find someone who will listen to you and offer you support. Sometimes it may be best to speak with a trained professional but speaking with a loved one can be just as helpful.
- Healthy Habits — In order to recover, it’s important to treat your body right. Get enough sleep. Eat a healthy diet. Avoid drugs and alcohol. PTSD stresses your body, so you need to make sure that you treat yourself right and don’t stress yourself even more. Make sure you make time for relaxing activities and find positive ways to deal with your aggression such as working with a punching bag or even yelling into a pillow.
Recovering from PTSD isn’t easy, and everyone’s experience is different. Most importantly, remember that you don’t have to suffer forever. The pain and frustration that you experience can be managed over time. It’s not uncommon for veterans with PTSD to experience suicidal feelings. If you feel suicidal read this guide and speak to a friend or family member. You should also consider reaching out to a healthcare professional who can help you manage your symptoms.