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PTSD Sufferers Can Make Choices To Help Their Recovery

Although post-traumatic stress disorder no longer hides in the shadows the way it may have done decades ago, shedding light on the prevalence and seriousness of PTSD among America’s soldiers and veterans is just the first step in dealing with it. Even as PTSD treatment improves and becomes more easily and widely available, experts recognize that there is and never will be a “magic bullet” to resolve such a complex condition. Moreover, servicemen and servicewomen undergoing treatment for PTSD can make a big difference in their own well-being as they recover by making certain healthy choices, according to mental health professionals at the VA and other institutions.

Among the recommendations of psychologists, psychologists, social workers and others who work with members and former members of the military afflicted by PTSD as a result of combat or service in hostile areas:

  • Get regular exercise – Physical exertion not only helps the body stay healthy, it relaxes the mind and builds self-esteem. For PTSD sufferers, exercise can create beneficial feelings of control over one’s self and one’s environment, and it can provide a much-needed break from stress and painful memories. Remember that disciplines that emphasize body control and relaxation, such as yoga, can be as beneficial, if not more so, as strength- or endurance-based exercises.
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs – Many who suffer from PTSD, anxiety or depression give into the temptation to “self-medicate” with illegal or unprescribed drugs, or by consuming excessive amounts of alcohol. At best, such activities can only be a temporary escape from disturbing thoughts and emotions; at worst, they will inevitably compound the problems of PTSD over the longer term. For PTSD sufferers who are already misusing alcohol or drugs as a coping mechanism, it’s essential to seek treatment for addiction as well as for PTSD.
  • Consider relocating – PTSD causes its victims to be anxious for their safety. Living in a dangerous, high-crime area can reinforce fearfulness in a victim at the same time that PTSD treatment is trying to help him or her “unlearn” thought patterns of fear and anxiety. Moving to a safer neighborhood, if possible, can help PTSD sufferers think differently about the world around them as they participate in counseling and treatment.
  • Remember, the behaviors discussed above are only helpful adjuncts to professional PTSD treatment. If you’re suffering from the effects of PTSD, or think that you might be, you should seek help from a competent, compassionate and caring mental health professional. At The Center for Counseling and Health Resources in Edmonds, Washington, Dr. Gregory Jantz and his staff are experienced at treating PTSD through a “whole-person” approach that addresses each client’s emotional, mental, physical and spiritual needs. Contact The Center, “A Place of Hope” for PTSD sufferers, at 1-888-771-5166.