March 16, 2018

Helpful tips for people struggling with PTSD after gun violence.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is not just for Veterans and people in the military. Many are surprised to learn this.

What is PTSD?
Post-traumatic stress disorder occurs after someone has been through a shocking and dangerous event. These events can include battle, sexual abuse, gun violence, neglect or any traumatic event,’ PTSD can happen to anyone.

However, military men and women are at greater risk for PTSD. Gun violence trauma and survival has become more prevalent in the United States and survivors struggle with PTSD as well.

Some of the most common symptoms of PTSD include:
Fight, Flight and Freeze this is what the process can feel like.
-Recurring nightmare of the traumatic event
-Loss of interest
-Anger or feeling irritated
-Feeling emotionally cut off from others alone and isolation
-Being always on guard
-Having trouble concentrating or staying focused
-Being easily startled heightened sense of safety
-Having a difficult time regulating your emotions.
These symptoms may not show up for months or years after the actual event occurred. The symptoms can come and go. If symptoms keep happening over time, and disrupt your daily life, then you may have PTSD.

Disruptions can include:
Avoiding places or things that remind you of what happened there have actually been studies that show a 5 mile radius around the trauma can trigger survivors.
Turning to alcohol or drugs to cope with the trauma as humans we tend to numb what we can’t control
Thoughts of self-harm or harming others, if you have this please reach out for help
Always have to keep busy and occupy your mind.
Isolation spending too much time alone.
Here’s the issue: People who suffer from PTSD may not be able (or willing) to recognize these symptoms and behaviors on their own. They may be aware of them, but are in denial.
That’s why it’s incredibly important for families, friends, and other support circles to be on the lookout for any sign of PTSD early on – the earlier PTSD is addressed, the more successful treatment can be.

Treatment for PTSD
The three main treatments for PTSD are:
Counseling-specifically with a trauma trained counselor, licensed
Psychologist- Trauma trained is suggested
Medication-This can come from your family doctor but better to work with someone that can monitor you. Specifically medication can be used to help with anxiety, not sleeping, depression, panic attacks.
EMDR- this is usually done with a licensed therapist and we recommend that you make sure you click with this person as you dive into your trauma it must be with someone you trust.

We asked people who struggle with PTSD what were some helpful suggestions and here is what they said. Some of these may apply to you while others may not. Sometimes we learn the most from people who have experienced living with PTSD and trauma. Please keep in mind these are just suggestions that have worked for other people. If you are having suicidal thoughts call 911 immediately or a suicide hotline. Reach out for help! You are not broken.
-Trauma Therapy
-See a Psycholigist
-Get Grounded in your physical body. Lay down on the floor and physically let your hands and back touch the ground.
-Breathe Try breathing through parts of your body starting from your toes and traveling up through your foot, ankle and focus on only your breathe going inhale and exhale. If you get side tracked bring your thoughts back to your breathe.
-Yoga with a trusted teacher who understand PTSD and Trauma
-Count to 10 forwards and backwards
-Exercise waling, running, swimming, what ever works
-Take a shower and let the water run on your face this helps with anxiety
-Try to self talk and tell yourself you are safe.
-Have a group of trusted friends you can tell you are triggered to so they can help talk you down.
-Listen to relaxing music
-Pet your dog
-put your hands in ice water or carry ice in your hand.
-Essential oils lavender, calm anything that helps you feel calm.
-create a save cozy environment
-purchase a weighted anxiety blanket

Therapy or counseling can help PTSD sufferers understand the reasons behind their thoughts and reactions, and can provide coping strategies to address these challenging situations and feelings.

Medications can also be used to reduce tension or irritability, as well as to improve sleep. Make sure you are being monitored by a doctor and always inform someone you love that you have started medication to watch for suicidal thoughts.
Take the next step and reach out for help.
Whether you or a loved one are suffering from PTSD, it’s never too late to get treatment. We strongly recommend that you consult with:
Your doctor: Ask if your doctor has experience treating Veterans or Survivors of Gun Violence or Trauma. You are not what happened to you. It doesn’t have to define you but you can not do this alone.
Sending so much love and remember the bottom list is just suggestions we always suggest seeing a licensed and trained trauma counselor and your doctor first.

If you are dealing with PTSD please get help asap. You do not have to do this alone.

Angela True

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