PTSD, also known as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, is a complex disorder that can be difficult to manage for those living with it. The first step to managing PTSD is to understand what it is, what causes the disorder to occur and the kind of effect it can have on an individual's daily life.
This guide to PTSD will explore what Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is and its typical symptoms, what are some of the causes, what experiencing this disorder may look or feel like, strategies for coping and managing PTSD, and additional resources for support.*
What is PTSD?
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is, according to the American Psychiatric Association, “a psychiatric disorder that may occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event”, causing an intense and often delayed mental reaction following negative, distressing or challenging experiences.
PTSD is characterised by the inability to move on and recover from a traumatic event, with around 12% of the population estimated to experience the condition at some point in their lives.
People with PTSD have usually witnessed or experienced something deeply terrifying to them and struggle to process the trauma they felt, and continue to feel, in the aftermath of the situation. This can result in constant flashbacks, the need to avoid situations, difficulty sleeping and markedly changed behaviour.
What Causes PTSD?
PTSD can be caused by any traumatic event, but most cases are caused by experiencing or witnessing the following:
- Severe accidents
- Natural disasters
- Serious crime
- Abuse and mistreatment
- Receiving a diagnosis
- Complicated birth
Why Doesn’t Everyone Experience PTSD After a Traumatic Event?
Not everyone who struggles in the aftermath of a traumatic experience will develop PTSD, mainly because each person has different stress limits and unique coping strategies. Research indicates that people with a lower stress limit tend to have a higher risk of developing PTSD as they are more susceptible to becoming overwhelmed following a traumatic event.
Imagine that two people were both in a building which caught fire. While both experienced the same traumatic event, Person A (with a higher stress limit), comes out thankful for being alive and determined to live life to the fullest. On the other hand, Person B (with a lower stress limit) can’t forget the trauma and may develop anxiety, PTSD or depression after the experience. It’s important to note that everyone handles stress and trauma differently and a PTSD diagnosis doesn’t indicate that someone has failed to manage their fears or emotions.
Ultimately though, we don’t fully understand the reasons that lead to some people developing PTSD, while others do not develop PTSD following a traumatic event. According to the Mayo Clinic, it is likely there is a complex mix of reasons that contribute to whether or not an individual is likely to develop PTSD, such as the amount and severity of trauma, how a person’s body responds to stress through the regulation of chemicals and hormones, and family history of mental illness.
What Does PTSD Feel Like?
People with PTSD mainly experience feelings of panic or extreme fear, reminiscent of what they felt during the event that traumatised them, with most examples of PTSD falling into one of four main areas:
- Reliving the event: many people with PTSD experience stressful memories, painful flashbacks or ongoing nightmares about the trauma. It might seem like there’s no escape from the pain and distress, whatever they do.
- Avoiding situations: PTSD can lead to people becoming emotionally cold, indifferent or apathetic towards the environment and others. They may also avoid activities and situations that might trigger the trauma or even forget aspects of the traumatic event.
- Vegetative hyperarousal: in some cases, people may experience sleep disorders, irritability, difficulty concentrating, increased alertness, excessive nervousness and a general inability to settle down and find calm due to PTSD symptoms.
- Behavioural changes: PTSD can also manifest in changes to self-perception and behaviour, including not trusting other people, disturbed self-imagining or world view, self-hate, feelings of guilt or shame and difficulty going about daily life.
People with PTSD also tend to have a higher risk of depression, alcohol or drug abuse, eating disorders or other mental health conditions, especially if they don’t receive effective support.
How to support someone with PTSD
If you or someone you know is struggling with PTSD, there are several ways you can find help and support. PTSD can be a frightening experience but you don’t have to face it on your own!
Visit a psychologist or psychotherapist: professional therapists are trained to help and have many methods to support you and make your daily life easier.
Talk to your family and friends: talking through your fears and thought processes is a good strategy to help cope better with negative situations and problems.
Get active: exercise can release endorphins and provide a healthy distraction from your fears. Go out for a walk, do sports, be creative, play with your kids.
Set routines: daily routines provide a feeling of certainty and safety, while also motivating your brain to keep active as you focus on what you need to do.
Write down your worries and fears: writing down your thoughts and feelings is a practical way to free up your mind, stop overthinking and provide perspective.
Do relaxation exercises: yoga, meditation, deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation have proven calming effects, both for your body and for your mind.
Ask others for help: take the pressure off and share the mental and physical load by asking for help, whenever you feel stressed or overwhelmed.
Balanced sleep and nutrition routine: a healthy sleep and nutrition routine will help your body https://www.jettproof.com.au/recover, find a new normal and promote mental and physical health.
Additional therapies: occupational therapy, art therapy or music therapy as well as support groups are other ways to help manage the symptoms of PTSD.
Wear JettProof sensory clothing: sensory clothing can help calm down your body, reduce overthinking and increase overall wellbeing. JettProof sensory clothing provides a sense of calm for children and adults alike while delivering all-day support to combat stress, anxiety and other symptoms of PTSD.
There are a number of resources linked throughout this guide if you need additional resources for support or to better understand PTSD as a condition.
About Jettproof Sensory Clothing & PTSD
JettProof calming sensory clothing may assist children and adults living with PTSD, as well as Autism, Sensory Processing Disorder, Asperger Syndrome, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Apraxia, Dyspraxia, ADHD and Anxiety. Stay up to date with the Jettproof journey by following us on Facebook and Instagram or by joining our mailing list to receive regular updates.
*Please note, Jettproof is not a medical or psychiatric provider and the following guide should not be used as diagnostic criteria or medical advice. We strongly advise speaking with medical and/or psychiatric professionals if you believe you are experiencing symptoms of PTSD.