PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)
PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) is a condition whereby individuals struggle to recover long after experiencing or witnessing a deeply impactful event. PTSD occurs in one’s life and ultimately interferes with the individual’s ability to function. If you or someone around you is constantly struggling with PTSD, you may be wondering whether it is right to seek professional help.
What is PTSD? PTSD is a psychological disorder that may develop after an individual has been exposed to or been threatened with a traumatic event. If you are struggling with PTSD, you might find yourself frequently having vivid flashbacks and nightmares, avoiding certain situations which may act as triggers and struggling with constant feelings of anger, sadness and anxiety.
It is very common to experience disturbing memories and feelings almost immediately post experiencing a traumatic event and over and over again over the course of your life. However, for people who are suffering from PTSD, these intrusions are so frequent and debilitating they can disrupt their ability to function daily.
Some of the symptoms to look out for include:
· Reoccurring and undesirable memories of the event
· Reoccurring nightmares
· Vivid flashbacks, as though you are reliving the experience
· Severe distress when thinking of the traumatic event
· Increase in heart rate or perspiration when reminded of the event
· Avoiding thoughts or feelings associated with the trauma
· Avoiding situations that may act as triggers or reminders of the event. Such as certain places, people and situations
· Constantly easily startled and anxious
· Having difficulty falling or staying asleep
· Being overly aware of your surroundings and constantly finding potential threats to your safety
· Frequent anger outbursts
· Struggling to remember crucial factors about the traumatic event
· Recurrent feelings of anger, anxiety, horror, hopelessness and guilt
· Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
Oftentimes, clients who are suffering from PTSD also suffer from additional health problems which could include anxiety, depression and alcohol and substance abuse. Symptoms of PTSD can waver in intensity and can worsen over time if left untreated.
Causes of PTSD
Individuals usually develop PTSD after being exposed to or experiencing a traumatic event which may range from being involved or fighting a war to sexual violence and abuse.
Types of situations that can lead to developing PTSD include:
· Natural Disasters
· Sexual Violence
· Terminal Illness
· Childbirth Experiences (such as losing a child)
It is still unclear exactly why some people develop PTSD while others may not. As is the case for several health conditions, there are likely certain potential causes at the root of developing this condition. Some of these include:
· Distressing life experiences, including how much trauma the individual may have experienced and how severe it was.
· A dominant family history of mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder.
· The individual’s personality traits and temperament.
· The way the individual’s brain may regulate certain chemicals and hormones, whilst experiencing increased stress.
· Having been exposed to or experiencing intense and prolonged trauma.
· Prior exposure to trauma, such as childhood abuse or domestic violence.
· Having other health conditions which affect your emotions, such as depression or anxiety.
· Struggling with substance abuse.
· Not having a solid support system, such as family or friends.
How to Recover From PTSD
How an individual may react to a traumatic event depends on a variety of things, but most importantly the individual’s perception of the event itself. Similarly, how to recover effectively from PTSD depends on the client. However, there are some actions that our team has found to be effective when working with PTSD clients and helping them recover and regain control, some of these include:
· Seeking professional help right away: The longer an individual may wait before reaching out for professional help, the worse the situation at hand can become. The best place to start is by reaching out to a therapist or counsellor who would be able to assess your situation and recommend appropriate treatment options. Counselling also works as a safe place for individuals to talk about their experiences and learn to better cope with PTSD.
· Be patient with yourself: Come to terms with the fact that this is not going to be easy to overcome. Allow yourself some time.
· Be transparent with your therapist: Individuals who have undergone intense trauma need to effectively work through their pain. Oftentimes, this means repeating the same story over and over to your therapist. It is important to remember this is alright. Therapists are better equipped and educated than friends or family when it comes to understanding intense trauma and its long-lasting effects. Therapists are also better prepared to help individuals identify relevant triggers and effective coping mechanisms.
· Try relaxation methods: These can include breathing exercises, yoga, stretching exercises, meditation and spending time amongst nature.
· Eat a well-balanced diet, exercise regularly and get enough sleep: When you are suffering from anxiety, you are prone to developing other health conditions. Eating nutritious and healthy food and sleeping enough can be crucial in helping you recover. Regular exercise can also increase serotonin levels, decreasing feelings of anger and depression.
How to Support Someone with PTSD
When someone you love and care about suffers from PTSD, it can be intense and overwhelming. PTSD is a tough condition to live with and can eventually take a serious toll on relationships, family and work life. The frequency and intensity of the PTSD itself can even lead to loss of jobs, substance and alcohol abuse and other problems which affect the individual, but also those around them.
There are several steps that can be taken to help someone suffering from PTSD, these include:
· Educate yourself thoroughly about the disorder so you can relate further to what your loved one is experiencing and what to expect.
· Encourage reaching out for help as this is paramount for their individual healing and recovery.
· Be supportive and patient.
· Encourage them to spend time with other friends and family members.
· Provide social support.
· Accept and expect mixed feelings.
· Rebuild trust and safety.
· Minimize external stress.
· Anticipate and manage triggers.
· Encourage them to join a support group.
Effective Coping Strategies
People who struggle with PTSD often struggle with intense and reoccurring symptoms of fear and anxiety. These intense symptoms of anxiety often cause people to rely on unhealthy coping mechanisms such as relying on drugs and alcohol.
Fortunately, there are several healthy ways to deal with PTSD and anxiety. These strategies can help reduce the intensity, reduce the frequency and make PTSD a bit more bearable. Some of these include:
· Deep Breathing: Practice simple deep breathing exercises to improve your breathing habits and combat anxiety.
· Muscle Relaxation: When tensing your muscles and immediately relaxing them, the symptom of muscle tension may act as a signal to relax over time.
· Mindfulness: Mindfulness helps to get out of your own head and focus on the present.
· Social Support: Unfortunately, simply having some there to talk to may not be enough as they may not be educated or equipped with the skills to help your situation, which is why reaching out to our therapists is helpful.
· Journaling: This has proven to be an effective method to improve psychological and physical health.
· Distraction Techniques: These can be of great use when coping with emotions that may be intense and undesirable, such as fear.
· Exercising Regularly: Increasing your activity levels can significantly reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression in individuals.
Effective Therapy for PTSD in Bangkok
At Counselling Thailand, we understand that when suffering from PTSD, it might often feel like you will never get your life back on track. However, it is crucial to keep in mind there are several resources out there to help you, and PTSD can be treated.
Our experienced bilingual therapists in Bangkok have three primary goals when working with clients suffering from PTSD, these include improving symptoms associated with PTSD, teaching clients relevant skills which will help them deal with the condition more effectively and restoring clients’ self-esteem. Some other therapy modalities practised by us, specifically when treating PTSD include:
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT): Most PTSD clients choose this form of treatment. The idea around CBT is to inherently alter negative thought patterns which may be affecting your life. Our therapists using CBT may encourage clients to re-evaluate their thinking patterns in order to recognize thought patterns that are unhelpful. Our aim is to help the clients reconceptualize their understanding of the traumatic event and also their understanding of themselves.
Psychosynthesis: This approach focuses on the personal growth and development of clients. This method of therapy is also known as the transpersonal approach because it integrates several factors, including cognitive, emotional, spiritual and physical aspects.
Art Therapy: Our therapists found through the use of art therapy, clients suffering from PTSD were able to express more positive feelings, externalize their abnormal emotions and gain further insight into their PTSD symptoms.
Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT): EFT is an approach to therapy we use which is based on the understanding that one’s emotions play a crucial role in who we are and how we behave. EFT aims to increase emotional awareness, enhance emotional regulation and transform emotions.
Gestalt Therapy: Gestalt therapy is a person-centred therapy that helps people let go of issues faced in the past that may have been keeping them from moving forward with their lives. Our therapists use this approach to teach clients to stay present and base their emotions, thoughts and behaviours around what is happening in the present.
Hypnotherapy: Hypnotherapy can be an extremely effective resource to help clients with PTSD. Using hypnosis as part of the therapy process allows clients to access painful or disassociated memories from their subconscious mind and restructure/reframe them in the present.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy: A form of therapy that encourages clients to briefly focus and put emphasis on the traumatic event while simultaneously experiencing a form of ‘bilateral stimulation (typically eye movements) which are associated with a significant reduction in the vividness associated with the traumatic memories. Although EMDR is used by some practitioners, our therapists do believe the alternative approaches mentioned above provide a more concise and structured treatment.
Where to Find Experienced Therapists in Bangkok
Fortunately, there are many research-backed treatments and therapy modalities that can help those suffering from PTSD cope with symptoms and begin to recover.
At Counselling Thailand, we offer multilingual therapists in Bangkok and Chiang Mai who are accessible either in person or online, depending on the client’s preference and location. We offer our therapy services in English, Thai, Mandarin and Hindi in order for our clients to feel they can relate to our team of therapists and choose one they think would be the best fit for them.
If you feel you or anyone around you is suffering from the many symptoms associated with PTSD, please do not hesitate to reach out to us directly through our website.
Additionally, we also offer a free 15 minute consultation call before you get started on your journey together, to make sure this is the right fit for you or simply for them to answer any questions you have about the entire process.