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Post-traumatic stress disorder is a psychological reaction that can manifest itself after a traumatic event. An event is considered traumatic if the person experienced, witnessed, or was confronted with an event or events that involved actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of self or others. The person's response can involve intense fear, helplessness, or horror.
PTSD symptoms are divided into four separate clusters, including:
Re-experiencing, or reliving, the traumatic event includes these symptoms:
Frequently having upsetting thoughts or memories about a traumatic event
Having recurrent nightmares
Acting or feeling as though the traumatic event were happening again, sometimes called a flashback
Having strong feelings of distress when reminded of the traumatic event
Being physically responsive, such as experiencing a surge in your heart rate or sweating, when reminded of the traumatic event
Actively avoiding people, places, or situations that remind you of the traumatic event includes these symptoms:
Making an effort to avoid thoughts, feelings, or conversations about the traumatic event
Making an effort to avoid places or people that remind you of the traumatic event
Making sure you're too busy to have time to think about the traumatic event
Feeling keyed up or on edge, known as hyperarousal, includes these symptoms:
Having a difficult time falling or staying asleep
Feeling more irritable or having outbursts of anger
Having difficulty concentrating
Feeling constantly on guard or like danger is lurking around every corner
Being jumpy or easily startled
4. Negative thoughts and beliefs
Thoughts and feelings about yourself and others may become negative and can include these symptoms:
Having a difficult time remembering important parts of the traumatic event
A loss of interest in important, once positive, activities
Feeling distant from others
Experiencing difficulties having positive feelings, such as happiness or love
Feeling as though your life may be cut short
Many of these symptoms are an extreme version of our body's natural response to stress. Understanding our body's natural response to threat and danger, known as the fight or flight response, can help us better understand the symptoms of PTSD.
To be diagnosed with PTSD, you don't need to have all these symptoms. In fact, rarely does a person with PTSD experience all the symptoms listed above. To receive a diagnosis of PTSD, you only need a certain number of symptoms from each cluster.
Additional requirements for the diagnosis also need to be assessed, such as how you initially responded to the traumatic event, how long you've been experiencing your symptoms, and the extent to which those symptoms interfere with your life.
Coping With Symptoms
The symptoms of PTSD can be difficult to cope with, and as a result, many people with PTSD develop unhealthy coping strategies, such as alcohol or drug abuse or deliberate self-harm. Because of these risks, it's important to develop a number of healthy coping strategies to manage your PTSD symptoms. Coping strategies you can work on incorporating in your life include:
Learning how to cope with anxiety
Finding healthy ways to manage your emotions
Learning how to cope with unpleasant thoughts and memories
Managing sleep problems
Being able to identify and cope with PTSD triggers
Managing flashbacks and dissociation
Getting Treatment Is Important
If you are experiencing symptoms of PTSD, it's important that you get the help you need. Many people have recovered from PTSD through treatment. However, unaddressed symptoms of PTSD can get worse over time and may contribute to the development of other psychological disorders, such as major depression, substance use disorders, eating disorders, or anxiety disorders.
Healing Waters Counselling Studio offers PTSD counselling for individuals and on-site Trauma counselling for families, first responders and businesses.
Healthy vs Unhealthy Relationships
A healthy relationship is when two people develop a connection based on:
A sense of playfulness/fondness
All of these things take work. Each relationship is most likely a combination of both healthy and unhealthy characteristics. Relationships need to be maintained and healthy relationships take work. This applies to all relationships; work relationships, friendships, family, and romantic relationships.
What are signs of a healthy relationship?
A healthy relationship should bring more happiness than stress into your life. Every relationship will have stress at times, but you want to prevent prolonged mental stress on either member of the relationship.
Below are some characteristic that may be present in your healthy relationships.
While in a healthy relationship you:
Take care of yourself and have good self-esteem independent of your relationship
Maintain and respect each other’s individuality
Maintain relationships with friends and family
Have activities apart from one another
Are able to express yourselves to one another without fear of consequences
Are able to feel secure and comfortable
Allow and encourage other relationships
Take interest in one another’s activities
Do not worry about violence in the relationship
Trust each other and be honest with each other
What are the signs of an unhealthy relationship?
At times all relationships will have some of the characteristics listed below. However, unhealthy relationships will exhibit these characteristics more frequently and cause you stress and pressure that is hard to avoid. This tension is unhealthy for both members of the relationship and may lead to problems in other areas of your life.
While in an unhealthy relationship you:
Put one person before the other by neglecting yourself or your partner
Feel pressure to change who you are for the other person
Feel worried when you disagree with the other person
Feel pressure to quit activities you usually/used to enjoy
Pressure the other person into agreeing with you or changing to suit you better
Notice one of you has to justify your actions (e.g., where you go, who you see)
Have a lack of privacy, and may be forced to share everything with the other person
Notice arguments are not settled fairly
Experience yelling or physical violence during an argument
Attempt to control or manipulate each other
Notice your partner attempts to controls how you dress and criticizes your behaviors
Do not make time to spend with one another
Have no common friends, or have a lack of respect for each others’ friends and family
Notice an unequal control of resources (e.g., food, money, home, car, etc.)
Experience a lack of fairness and equality
If your relationships have some of these characteristics it does not necessarily mean the end of the relationship. By recognizing how these characteristics affect you, you can begin to work on improving the negative aspect of your relationships to benefit both of you or leave the relationship.
Contrary to popular misconception, you don’t have to be “crazy,” desperate or on the brink of a meltdown to go to therapy. At the same time, therapy isn’t usually necessary for every little struggle life throws your way, especially if you have a strong support system of friends and family. So how do you know when it’s time to see a therapist?
Most people can benefit from therapy at least some point in their lives. Sometimes the signs are obvious but at other times, something may feel slightly off and you can’t figure out what it is. So you trudge on, trying to sustain your busy life until it sets in that life has become unmanageable. Before it gets to this point, here are five signs you may need help from a pro:
#1 Feeling sad, angry or otherwise “not yourself.”
Uncontrollable sadness, anger or hopelessness may be signs of a mental health issue that can improve with treatment. If you’re eating or sleeping more or less than usual, withdrawing from family and friends, or just feeling “off,” talk to someone before serious problems develop that impact your quality of life. If these feelings escalate to the point that you question whether life is worth living or you have thoughts of death or suicide, reach out for help right away.
#2 Abusing drugs, alcohol, food or sex to cope.
When you turn outside yourself to a substance or behavior to help you feel better, your coping skills may need some fine-tuning. If you feel unable to control these behaviors or you can’t stop despite negative consequences in your life, you may be struggling with addictive or compulsive behavior that requires treatment.
#3 You’ve lost someone or something important to you.
Grief can be a long and difficult process to endure without the support of an expert. While not everyone needs counseling during these times, there is no shame in needing a little help to get through the loss of a loved one, a divorce or significant breakup, or the loss of a job, especially if you’ve experienced multiple losses in a short period of time.
#4 Something traumatic has happened.
If you have a history of abuse, neglect or other trauma that you haven’t fully dealt with, or if you find yourself the victim of a crime or accident, chronic illness or some other traumatic event, the earlier you talk to someone, the faster you can learn healthy ways to cope.
#5 You can’t do the things you like to do.
Have you stopped doing the activities you ordinarily enjoy? If so, why? Many people find that painful emotions and experiences keep them from getting out, having fun and meeting new people. This is a red flag that something is amiss in your life.
Although severe mental illness may require more intensive intervention, most people benefit from short-term, goal-oriented therapy to address a specific issue or interpersonal conflict, get out of a rut or make a major life decision. The opportunity to talk uncensored to a nonbiased professional without fear of judgment or repercussions can be life-changing.
You may have great insight into your own patterns and problems. You may even have many of the skills to manage them on your own. Still, there may be times when you need help – and the sooner you get it, the faster you can get back to enjoying life.