Approximately eight million U.S. adults suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a severe mental disorder brought on by surviving a traumatic event. Though cause and effect are well documented, research is ongoing for developing treatment and other tools to manage its symptoms. One such treatment is a drug called ketamine.
What Is PTSD?
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs says different reactions are normal after trauma, including disturbing memories, feeling on edge, or difficulty sleeping. They may initially interfere with normal life, “But most people start to feel better after a few weeks or months.” For anything longer, it may be PTSD.
Who Does PTSD Affect?
PTSD can hit anyone, especially active-duty military, first responders, doctors, nurses – all with a higher risk of Post-traumatic stress disorder than other professions. Veterans, children, and “average” people from all walks of life also can experience PTSD. Thankfully, the symptoms for each group can be treated through psychotherapy or drugs like ketamine.
Coping Strategies For PTSD
Living with PTSD, whether you participate in psychotherapy or ketamine infusion therapy, is a daily challenge. Learning to live with the symptoms can help you pass that knowledge onto someone else.
- Use the “Window of Tolerance” concept to identify and communicate about your mental wellbeing. Being inside the window means that you are okay and can function successfully.
- Breathe Slowly and Deeply. Make sure to inhale through your nose and expel the air for longer than you inhaled, either through pursed lips or through your nose.
- Recognize that what you experienced is real and painful. Understanding the name or context of traumatic stress validates that you are not to blame for how you feel. You are not “broken.” What you are experiencing is a typical response to aberrant experiences. Self-validation is a critical part of the healing process.
- Zero in on your five senses. Begin with five different things you see, hear, sense with your skin, taste, and smell. Then take note of four of each, then three, and so on.
- Think positively for 12 Seconds. Recall a positive memory, like a beautiful flower, a picturesque sunset, a smile on someone’s face, an unexpected compliment from a colleague or friend. Stay focused for 12 seconds.
- Use a Gravity or Weighted Blanket. PTSD is often accompanied by sleep disturbances, including insomnia, nightmares, memories, and high anxiety. Not getting enough sleep, about eight hours uninterrupted for the average adult, can result in trouble concentrating, leading to difficulties at school or work. You can experience irritability, negatively affecting important relationships. According to some research, sleeping with a weighted blanket, which simulates being hugged or held firmly and safely, can help in reducing insomnia and anxiety.
- Laughing is ok. In fact, some studies have concluded that laughter is medicinal, and it has become a common tool inside and outside of therapy sessions. Laughter has been proven to reduce stress because it releases hormones that boost the immune system and redo your brain. So, listen to a funny podcast, watch your favorite comedian on YouTube, or read through a printed compilation of the Sunday funnies.
How To Helped A Loved One With PTSD
Here are some ideas to help your loved one live with PTSD:
- Offer social support. Your comfort and reassurance can help someone with PTSD overcome emotions of helplessness, grief, and despair.
- Learn to listen. It is not a good idea to force conversation on someone with PTSD, but if they willingly share, try to listen but not judge or have expectations. Say pointedly, you want to help and are concerned, but avoid offering advice unless requested.
- Help rebuild safety and trust. Rebuilding a loved one’s feeling of security will aid their recovery.
Manage and anticipate triggers. Understand typical internal and external PTSD causes and help a loved one handle their effects.
- Deal with volatility and anger. Watch for anger signs and try to calm them.
Remember your own wellbeing. Staying with your loved one for the long haul is a task requiring courage and strength, both of which can vanish quickly if you are always exhausted.
Treatments Available for PTSD
Significant resources are available for treating symptoms related to PTSD, with many patients initially undergoing some form of psychotherapy combined with antidepressants or other medications. Recently, studies have shown promise for a drug called ketamine, which helps control symptoms by aiding in the positive function of neurotransmitters in the human brain.
PTSD is a severe mental health illness that can have life-long consequences if its symptoms are ignored and left untreated. If you or someone you know suffers from PTSD, seek medical attention immediately. Many online resources exist, including through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and The American Psychological Association.
If you or a loved one would like to learn more about the clinical use of ketamine to help treat the symptoms of PTSD we can help. Contact us today.