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Mental Health Blog

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Causes & How to Cope

August 26, 2022

What Is PTSD?

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, is a mental affliction that affects people who have suffered through shocking, scary, or any other trauma-inducing experiences. Though it can affect people in different ways, it typically causes extreme anxiety, nightmares, and intense flashbacks.

PTSD is nothing to be ashamed about. In fact, it’s incredibly common in today’s society and there are many causes. The symptoms can often become overwhelming and when they do, it’s time to find a PTSD therapist or counselor to help work through the underlying issues and trauma so that we can find sustainable solutions to cope with PTSD.

Handel Behavioral Health offers a wide range of treatments and therapies for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder all across the state of Massachusetts, including our offices in:

We also now offer teletherapy sessions for PTSD and all other services we offer so that we can fit into your busy schedule and meet you virtually from the comfort of your home or office. Contact us today and learn how we can help.

In this article we’ll discuss:

  • What causes PTSD?
  • How to cope with PTSD

What Causes PTSD?

PTSD has had many names in the past such as “shell shock” and “combat fatigue”. Both of these terms generally referred to the stress suffered by war veterans who saw horrific scenes in battle or experienced graphic events such as bombings and torture. However, in modern psychology, we understand that not only war veterans can be afflicted by PTSD. In fact, there are many causes of post-traumatic stress disorder. Some of these include:

  • Sexual assault or harassment
  • Car or workplace accidents
  • Witnessing or experiencing violence and abuse
  • Suffering from extreme poverty or neglect

How to Cope with PTSD

Because PTSD can become so severe and intense, many victims turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms to help mitigate their symptoms and suffering. However, avoiding these unhealthy habits, such as consuming drugs and alcohol or becoming reclusive, is crucial for recovery. Those habits are a temporary escape to a problem that will not get better until it’s properly addressed. With that said, the best way to address PTSD is to seek out a trained professional therapist or counselor who can get to the root of your trauma and help develop ways to cope with and overcome the affliction that are unique and personal to you.

Sustainable & Healthy Ways to Cope with PTSD Include:

  • Deep breathing and focused meditation
    Meditation, breathing, mindfulness- these are all similar methods of accomplishing the similar goal of taking a step back from your stress and allowing yourself a moment (or as many as you need) to approach things with a clearer, more relaxed state of mind. Daily meditation has been shown to improve mood and lessen symptoms of PTSD, depression, and anxiety over time. The key is to stick with it. Even if at first you don’t feel you “know how” to meditate, the first few times it’s okay to just take a step back, close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths. No one is expecting you to “find enlightenment”. The goal here is just to find calm down and get back to living in the present moment as opposed to worrying about a past cause of stress or a future outcome that you can’t control in the moment.
  • Planning a distraction or finding a hobby
    As you feel the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder begin to set in, it can prove incredibly beneficial to have a few hobbies or distractions planned ahead of time. This can be something as simple as taking a walk or some other form of light exercise, or it can be taking up an activity that will occupy your mind like chess or painting. This is completely up to you and what makes you feel at ease the quickest. Involving a close friend or family member in this activity can also provide some stress relief and help you get back to enjoying your day sooner. Though it’s important we aren’t just ignoring or avoiding our emotions every time we feel a little upset and stressed, sometimes it’s unhealthy to let ourselves become overwhelmed by our emotions so letting them go can occasionally benefit us greatly.
  • Writing in a journal or personal diary
    One of the best ways to cope with any mental illness, and especially one related to stress and anxiety, is routinely writing in a journal. Whether it’s as the symptoms begin to take effect or just at the end of each day to reflect, putting your thoughts into written words is a simple way to make sense of what we feel. In fact, this provides an opportunity to think about what is triggering the PTSD to begin with as well as identify healthy coping strategies that helped to alleviate stress in the past. What’s even more beneficial is that you can bring these notes to your PTSD therapist and discuss them with a professional to help you make sense of them and find solutions together.
  • Talking with friends and family
    Study after study will show, maintaining a trusting relationship with several close friends or family members can be a great way to find strength during difficult times and difficult battles with PTSD. Sometimes all it takes to help us through our struggles is knowing we have a strong support group to rely on and encourage us.
  • Meeting with a PTSD support group
    In addition to maintaining strong, supportive relationships with friends and family, finding and attending a local PTSD support group or just a general trauma support group is even more beneficial to our recovery. These support groups enable us to talk to real people with real trauma experiences who will not only understand the many struggles of this disorder, but will also be able to provide real solutions and advice during recovery.
  • Seek treatment from a therapist, counselor, or medical professional
    When symptoms of PTSD become too difficult to bear on our own, it’s time to seek help from a therapist. When we suffer from mental illness, we often feel as though we are fighting alone. But we don’t have to; there is always help when we seek it. Handel Behavioral Health has offices all over Massachusetts and now offers teletherapy for all mental health treatment services, including post-traumatic stress disorder therapy.

Contact HBH

Handel Behavioral Health offers many forms of therapy, counseling, and psychiatry so that we are able to help people across a wide variety of circumstances. We have 4 offices across Massachusetts and also provide online therapy services so that we can serve you wherever you are. The first step to PTSD recovery is seeking help. Contact HBH today and learn more about PTSD treatment options.