7 Ways To Cope With Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD can be caused by a number of experiences, from a car accident to rape to surviving a terrorist attack. How do you identify the symptoms and find out if you have PTSD or not? 

What is PTSD? 

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that can develop after being involved in or witnessing traumatic events.

It can lead to a wide range of experiences, from a car accident, a traumatic birth, the loss of a loved one under appalling circumstances, rape or assault, to surviving a terrorist attack or a war. While it is natural to experience fear and anxiety to a certain degree, not everyone will develop PTSD. However, if you've been affected for a long time or have severe symptoms - such as anxiety, reliving the event, or nightmares - you could have PTSD. Some symptoms even take years to appear. 


PTSD can cause annoying flashbacks and recurring nightmares. You may feel "hyper-alert" - unable to relax your alertness, sleep, or relax. Or, you may make unusual efforts not to think about the trauma by avoiding places, people, or situations that remind you of the event. Some physical symptoms can be caused by PTSD as well such as, such as palpitations, diarrhea, and headaches. Alcohol and medication are common tools, but trying to erase the trauma can make it more difficult to deal with. 

Risk factors

PTSD is not a sign of weakness; everyone can be affected. However, if you experienced emotional, physical, or sexual abuse and neglect as a child, you are more vulnerable as vital relationships of trust may not have developed normally. This early damage can affect all relationships in the future. Your personal resilience is a complex mix of genetics, temperament, hormones, mental and physical illnesses, support systems, and previous experiences. But even the most resilient person can be beaten by PTSD at six. 

Realize your risk and know the signs

Having a good support system and taking care of your physical and mental wellbeing makes sense, but may not be within your control. Your workplace should offer training, support, and risk management. Trauma Risk Management (TRiM) is a peer support system developed by the Army and is widely used in workplaces where personnel are at high risk of trauma. 
Debriefing can do more harm than good. 
People with mild symptoms of PTSD can get better within a month without treatment. However, if the initial reaction to the trauma is severe, treatment should start sooner rather than later, or treatment will be more difficult. Anyone who has experienced trauma should receive hands-on empathic support from health and social workers, but an individual debriefing for anyone focused on the event is not recommended and can do more harm than good. 


The recommended treatment depends on the type of trauma you've experienced and how the symptoms of PTSD are affecting your life. There's no one-size-fits-all approach, but recommended therapies include trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), eye movement desensitization, and reprocessing treatment that focuses on helping your brain process the trauma. Medicines can be used along with other treatments. Some people find exercise, mindfulness, and art therapy helpful. Your family doctor should be able to refer you to specialist help if necessary. 

Other approaches

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a modified form of CBT that was developed by the US psychologist Marsha Linehan. CBT focuses on changing unhelpful thinking and behavior, but DBT is also focused on accepting who you are and places great emphasis on your relationship with the therapist. The goal is emotional self-regulation, which means that you can keep your emotional reactions tolerable and in your control.