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If you have been through a devastating life event, you know that everything seems to change afterward. You may see your life differently, question your choices, or reconsider your values and priorities. While it is common to experience significant changes after a traumatic life event, these may look different for each person.
After experiencing a traumatic life event, some people may develop PTSD. This is a disorder in which responses to the traumatic event become intense and uncontrollable and affect a person’s life in the long run. Experiencing this can feel overwhelming, but with mental health resources like BetterHelp, it is possible to heal and grow stronger over time.
What is PTSD?
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an illness that affects people who have experienced traumatic life events. People can develop PTSD from a wide variety of experiences, including surviving war, assault, or natural disasters. PTSD will likely look different in each person based on their individual characteristics and the nature of the traumatic event they have survived.
PTSD can also be connected to other disorders such as depression and anxiety. A person may develop new or worsened symptoms as part of PTSD. These disorders can also shape a person’s experience of trauma.
The signs and symptoms of PTSD will look different based on each person’s specific experience. People with PTSD commonly experience flashbacks or a feeling that they are back in the traumatic situation. They may also experience these in the form of nightmares. Places and experiences that remind a person of their trauma can trigger these types of symptoms, as well as others like panic attacks.
Symptoms of PTSD may also appear throughout a person’s day-to-day life. Common trauma responses include irritability and isolation. A person may feel like they are protecting themselves or others from the effects of their trauma with these behaviors. In reality, however, they are detrimental to everyone in the long run. People experiencing PTSD will also often have intrusive thoughts or memories of their trauma.
Recovery is Possible
PTSD can feel overwhelming. You may not understand what is going on as you experience unfamiliar thoughts and feelings. It may feel like you have become a different person after a traumatic event.
It is important to remember that neither a traumatic event nor its effects are your fault or failures on your part. Trauma responses are the brain and body’s way of trying to protect itself, heal, and develop resilience after experiencing trauma. These responses may not actually be helpful, but with intention and effort, you can change them.
Treatment for PTSD
PTSD symptoms can worsen if left unaddressed. Some people may even inflict harm on others as a result of their own traumatic experiences. In order to avoid this, it is essential to seek treatment for PTSD.
Seeking counselling or therapy is a great way to start addressing the roots of PTSD. A therapist or counsellor can help you understand what is going on, understand the origins of your trauma, and develop coping strategies. They can also guide you on the path to creating a long-term treatment plan that will allow you to heal.
There are several methods of therapy that can be used to treat PTSD. One common method is Cognitive Behavior Therapy, where clients will learn to recognize and reframe their negative thought patterns. Exposure therapy, or controlled exposure to something you’re afraid of, is another treatment used to reshape the body’s responses to certain situations. Consulting a mental health professional can help you explore possible therapy methods and determine what treatment method is right for you.
How to Care for Your Mental Health
While it’s essential to seek professional support to treat the roots of your PTSD, there are also some strategies you can use to improve your mental health.
Simplify Your Life
When you are dealing with difficult experiences, it can be tempting to fill your life up with things that bring you momentary joy. While some people tend to isolate themselves when they are suffering, others may clutter their lives with new objects and experiences. While this may bring short-term relief, it can often lead to stress, confusion, and chaos in the long run.
As you embark on your healing journey, consider taking some time to declutter your life, both mentally and physically. Getting rid of things you don’t need is a great way to help you feel refreshed and think about what you really value in life. It can also be a healing practice, one that lets you take control of an area of your life.
When you clean out the clutter in your life, you’ll have the opportunity to slow down and get more in touch with your emotions and your core values. If this process feels overwhelming, make sure to seek the help of a mental health professional as you dig deeper into your thoughts and emotions.
While it may feel easier to isolate yourself when you are hurting, it won’t actually help you or the people around you. You may even start to notice your relationships falling apart as others feel you becoming more distant.
It may feel like you are burdening other people when you share your distress. In reality, though, the people you know probably want to help you but can’t if you don’t let them in. While your friends and family can’t fix your problems, they will likely appreciate your showing trust when you confide in them.
If you feel unable to talk to the people closest to you, try seeking support elsewhere. Look for support groups with people who have experienced something similar. It can be very helpful and affirming to talk about your experiences with people who understand them at a deeper level. It can also be beneficial to speak to a therapist or counsellor.
Find Your Purpose
Experiencing trauma makes many people question their actions, values, and what they are doing in their lives. This may bring a sense of confusion and chaos. If left unaddressed, these feelings can develop into negative emotions and thought patterns.
If you’re feeling lost after a devastating event in your life, take some time to reflect on your purpose. Ask yourself what you have learned from this experience? What has changed? What is most important to you now? Taking some time for reflection can help you understand your new reality and reshape your life to feel more aligned with your purpose and values.
Finding your purpose is a great way to move forward with healing. It can also help you develop resilience, or the ability to survive difficult situations and grow stronger from them.
Remember that healing looks different for every person. Move at your own pace and listen to your mind and body as you take steps to move forward. Even if you can’t see beyond what you are experiencing right now, there is always one step you can take to heal. Even if it may seem far away, healing is always possible.
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health-related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.