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Ways to Manage Your PTSD Symptoms

Learn Healthy Coping Skills


Updated September 23, 2011

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

PTSD symptoms can be very difficult to manage. They may feel intense, cause tremendous distress and discomfort, may interfere with different aspects of your life, and can feel unpredictable. Given this, many people with PTSD find themselves at risk for unhealthy behaviors that may bring about quick (but not permanent) relief of their symptoms, such as substance abuse.

Fortunately, there are healthy coping strategies that you can use to better manage your PTSD symptoms. An overview of these coping strategies are presented below.

Managing Intrusive and Unpleasant Thoughts

It is very common for someone with PTSD to frequently experience distressing thoughts and memories connected to their traumatic event. These intrusive thoughts can bring up other symptoms of PTSD, such as intense arousal and avoidance. Therefore, it is very important for the person with PTSD to learn healthy ways of coping with upsetting thoughts and memories. A number of different coping strategies that may help you better manage your thoughts and memories are presented here.

Identifying Triggers for PTSD Symptoms

Sometimes people with PTSD feel as though their symptoms occur spontaneously or "out-of-the-blue." If you have this experience, it may be because you aren't completely aware of all of the triggers around you for your PTSD symptoms. The best way to manage triggers is to increase your awareness of triggers and identify ways of coping with them ahead of time. This article provides a wealth of information on types of triggers, how to identify your triggers, and how to manage PTSD symptoms that arise from triggers.

Coping With Flashbacks

Flashbacks are a common symptom of PTSD. Flashbacks are currently considered one of the re-experiencing symptoms of PTSD. In a flashback, a person may feel or act as though a traumatic event is happening again. A flashback may be temporary and some connection with the present moment may be maintained, or a person may lose all awareness of what is going on around him, being taken completely back to their traumatic event. The coping strategies presented in this article may help you increase your awareness of triggers for flashbacks, as well as ways to stay in touch with the present moment when a flashback is occurring.

Coping with a Sense of Foreshortened Future

Following a traumatic event, a person may develop a sense of a foreshortened future, which is currently considered an avoidance symptom of PTSD. People who experience this symptoms feel as though their life will somehow be cut short without any real explanation why. They may also feel as though they won't be able to reach milestones in their life, such as a career, marriage or children. As a result, people may begin to feel hopeless and helpless, which may increase risk for depression. If you suffer from this PTSD symptom, the strategies listed in this article may be of help.

Reducing Avoidance Behavior

People with PTSD often avoid certain situations or activities for fear that unpleasant and uncomfortable PTSD symptoms will be triggered. Unfortunately, this avoidance only increases isolation, puts people at risk for depression, and reinforces the idea that those PTSD symptoms do need to be avoided. One strategy that can help combat avoidance is behavioral activation. The primary goals of behavioral activation is to reduce avoidance behavior and increase contact with positive events and activities, thereby reducing anxiety and depression. This article takes you through the steps of behavioral activation.

Coping with Difficulties Sleeping

Sleep problems are a common occurrence among people with PTSD. In fact, sleep problems are actually considered a hyperarousal symptom of PTSD. It is important to find ways of coping with sleep problems, as sleep problems can make your other PTSD symptoms more severe. In addition, poor sleep can negatively affect your ability to be effective at work or school. Learn some ways of managing your sleep problems here.

Managing Memory Problems

People with PTSD experience intense anxiety and arousal. These experiences can interfere with memory and concentration. This can lead to problems at work and school. Fortunately, there are some skills you can use to improve your memory and concentration.

Coping with PTSD Symptoms at Work

PTSD can affect a number of different areas of your life, including work. The work environment can be particularly stressful and may present you with a number of situations that could trigger your PTSD symptoms. Therefore, it is very important to figure out healthy ways of coping with PTSD symptoms while you are at work. This article takes you through some ways of identifying healthy coping strategies that could be used to manage your PTSD symptoms while you are at work.

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  5. Coping with PTSD and Anxiety
  6. Managing PTSD Symptoms - PTSD Symptoms

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