Tuesday August 20, 2013
There are a number of different events that can be considered traumatic and place a person at risk for the development of PTSD. Experiencing a life-threatening illnesses or severe medical conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, is one such type of event. Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disease of the nervous system. It is believed to be an autoimmune disease, such that your body's own immune system attacks cells in your brain and spinal cord. There are numerous symptoms of MS. Symptoms can be mild, including numbness in limbs, or they can be severe, such as paralysis or complete loss of vision. The symptoms of MS, their severity, and their progression vary from person to person. It is an unpredictable illness.
Developing PTSD following a diagnosis of MS is a serious issue. PTSD can interfere greatly with many areas of a person's life. However, developing PTSD in response to MS can be particularly troubling. PTSD symptoms can negatively affect a person's physical health and place greater stress on your body, further increasing risk for future health problems. PTSD may also contribute to the development of unhealthy behaviors which can increase your risk for MS symptom relapses. The unpredictable and uncertain nature of MS may also lead to increased stress and/or depression which can trigger the occurrence of MS symptoms.
Although research in this area is limited, some studies have been done. Learn more about the connection between MS and PTSD, as well as current research in this area, in this article from About.com.
Monday August 19, 2013
If you have a diagnosis of PTSD then you likely experience strong negative emotions from time to time. PTSD can result in the experience of intense and frequent negative emotions, such as shame, anger, fear and sadness. These emotions may catch you off guard. They may also feel out-of-control or as though they will never end. As a result, you may likely find that managing your emotions can be a difficult thing to do. You are not alone. Study after study has shown that people with PTSD experience more difficulties managing their emotions.
These emotions can be hard to manage; consequently, many people with PTSD develop unhealthy ways of regulating their emotions, such as through substance use or deliberate self-harm. Although these strategies may work initially, in the long-run they will only increase your distress. Therefore, it is important to develop healthy ways of managing your emotions, such as through expressive writing, self-soothing or seeking social support.
Identifying healthy ways of managing your emotions is only one piece of the puzzle. There are additional steps you may want to take to ensure that the healthy emotion regulation strategies you come up with will be successful. Listed in this article are some tips on how to improve the effectiveness of your strategies.
Saturday August 17, 2013
Substance use disorders (such as alcohol dependence or drug dependence) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) frequently co-occur. Although these two conditions are often present at the same time, mental health professionals still are not sure what is the best way to treat this co-occurrence. In fact, there is a good amount of debate about how to best treat someone with both PTSD and substance use problems.
Some mental health professionals have developed treatments that address both symptoms at the same time. One of the most common treatments for people with PTSD and substance use problems is Seeking Safety. Seeking Safety was developed by Dr. Lisa Najavits, and it is a cognitive-behavioral group therapy that specifically targets the unique problems that result from struggling with both drug/alcohol use and PTSD. There is considerable support for Seeking Safety. Multiple studies have found that Seeking Safety can lead to a number of positive outcomes for people with PTSD and substance use problems.
However, some mental health professionals are beginning to explore whether already established cognitive-behavioral treatments for PTSD, such as exposure therapy (also referred to as prolonged exposure), may be just as useful. This article presents some preliminary work on the use of exposure therapy in treating symptoms of PTSD among patients with substance use disorders in a residential treatment program.
Wednesday July 31, 2013
There has been some recent studies which suggest that people with PTSD may benefit from yoga and mindfulness meditation. Yoga originated in ancient India and means "union" in Sanskrit. In yoga, the "union" that occurs is between the mind, body and spirit. Yoga, as many think about it today, is most accurately described by the word "asana," another Sanskrit word that describes the practice of physical postures and poses. In a nutshell, yoga is about creating a balance or equilibrium in the body through the development of strength and flexibility. Breathing and mindful awareness of the body are also important components of yoga.
Yoga may work particularly well for people with PTSD because it has been found to reduce the sensitivity of the part of our nervous system that causes us to feel physically aroused in response to some kind of stressful event or situation. In addition, yoga may help strengthen the part of our nervous system that aids in the reduction of arousal. Yoga has also been found to bring about changes in areas of the brain involved in the experience of positive emotion and reward. Yoga may also increase mindful awareness of thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations, which can be very helpful for someone with PTSD. Finally, yoga can improve your physical health, which may be particularly important for people with PTSD (read more about the benefits of exercise for people with PTSD here).
You can read more about these studies and the benefits of yoga for PTSD in this article from About.com. You can also read about a new study examining the effect of meditation on PTSD from Fox News.