PTSD EducationA crash course in posttraumatic stress disorder.
Education is the key to healing.
To begin recapturing the power trauma steals away you must learn all you can about post-traumatic stress, its definition, symptoms, causes and how it applies to you.
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- Clinical Definition
- Survivor Definition
- PTSD Symptoms
- PTSD Causes
- PTSD & The Brain
- Popular Questions
- Info for Caregivers
- Mental Health Support
- Recommended Reading
If your life has gotten to a point where you’re feeling overwhelmed by posttraumatic stress and symptoms, stuck, stalled or just plain tired of feeling bad it’s time to think about changing direction.
Sometimes you want a clinical perspective, and sometimes you just want to hear the way it is from a survivor’s point of view. Our podcasts cover a wide spectrum of topics designed to help you turn yourself around and get headed for healing in the right direction.
Past guests include:
Dr. Bernie Siegel • Martha Beck • Peter A. Levine • Babette Rothschild• Belleruth Naparstek • Dr. Rick Hanson • Dr. Rachel Yehuda • Dr. Francine Shapiro • Dr. Robert Scaer • Dr. Mark Goulston • Dr. Tania Glenn • Carre Otis • Priscilla Warner • Mark Nepo • Matthew Sanford • Dr. Frank Ochberg • Dr. Ron Siegel • Dr. Arthur Ciaramicoli • Dr. Larry Dossey • Dr. Ed Tick • Dr. Robin Zasio • Dr. Ray • Dr. David Berceli • Angela Shelton • Rena Romano • Dr. Cheryl Arutt • Lee Woodruff • Dr. Kim Dennis • John Wesley Fisher • Dr. Jennifer Nardozzi • Dr. Ron Ruden • Dr. Patricia Gerbarg • Reid Wilson • Pat Love • Mary Beth Williams • Dr. Alex Pattakos • Rev. Dr. Chris Parker • Cliff Richey • Dr. Bruce Dow
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder facts and statistics are critical: They help your brain wrap around concepts.
Understanding PTSD helps you know who you are today and gives you perspective about what you are attempting to do in recovery. Keeping current on PTSD facts and PTSD statistics keeps you on the cutting edge of awareness.
The brain likes to round, estimate and calculate percentages so that you can understand things. PTSD is a large and diverse group, so if you have it, you’re not alone by a long shot.
A PTSD self-test can give you a sort of PTSD checklist and see how much what you’re experiencing aligns with symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder.
If you think you may have PTSD the thing you most want is to know for sure. The first step toward diagnosis is deciding that your symptoms and experience are PTSD material. For this, it helps to read a comprehensive and condensed PTSD overview, and take a self-test.
A PTSD definition changes everything.
In 1980 the American Psychiatric Association formally recognized Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as a psychological condition. What is PTSD? The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV has a nifty little description.
The History of PTSD. While PTSD has only been formally recognized since 1980, evidence of it exists as far back as the 6th century in ancient Egypt where hieroglyphics contain symbols of an emotional response to a traumatic event. In more recent society, PTSD has been known by various names, including its American Civil War nickname, when combat veterans were referred to as suffering from “soldier’s heart.” In World War I, symptoms that were generally consistent with PTSD were referred to as “combat fatigue.” Soldiers who developed such symptoms in World War II were said to be suffering from “gross stress reaction,” and many who fought in Vietnam were labeled as having “post-Vietnam syndrome.” PTSD has also been called “battle fatigue” and “shell shock”.
PTSD Definition as per the DSM-IV. “The essential feature of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder is the development of characteristic symptoms following exposure to an extreme traumatic stressor involving direct personal experience of an event that involves actual or threatened death or serious injury, or other threat to one’s physical integrity; or witnessing an event that involves death, injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of another person; or learning about unexpected or violent death, serious harm, or threat of death or injury experienced by a family member or other close associate…. The person’s response to the event must involve intense fear, helplessness, or horror (or in children, the response must involve disorganized or agitated behavior).”
A little more user friendly, compliments of Medicine.net. “Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an emotional illness that develops as a result of a terribly frightening, life-threatening, or otherwise highly unsafe experience. PTSD sufferers re-experience the traumatic event or events in some way, tend to avoid places, people, or other things that remind them of the event (avoidance), and are exquisitely sensitive to normal life experiences (hyperarousal).”
Complex PTSD (or, Disorders of Extreme Stress Not Otherwise Specified, DESNOS). First referred to by Judith Herman in her book, Trauma and Recovery, Complex PTSD (C-PTSD) is a psychological injury that results from protracted, prolonged or repeated exposure to traumatic events and circumstances.C-PTSD is characterized by regular PTSD symptoms, plus long-lasting problems with many aspects of emotional and social functioning. For a detailed description of C-PTSD you can go here.
Combat PTSD. Combat PTSD denotes posttraumatic stress symptoms resulting from experience in a theater of war.
Survivors define PTSD on their own terms.
It’s one thing to read about PTSD in a text book or diagnostic manual; it’s another to hear what it feels like from people who have experienced, coped with, lived with and wrangled the PTSD beast day to day.
How survivors define PTSD has a lot to do with the symptoms they experience.
People who struggle with PTSD know best what it’s like to live;with symptoms from the inside out.
The quotations below have been sent in by survivors whose traumas span every type of trauma and whose willingness to share their most intensely personal experience is the core foundation of the Heal My PTSD community.
… like living with perpetual psychological dry socket. You never know when it will be bad but, when it is, nothing seems to help it feel better.
… being betrayed by your own mind and body, a body and mind that now act without your control, hide you under a table, in a corner, anywhere it feels out of threat and safe…. Oh to feel safe…
Post traumatic stress disorder (4 words that do not really justify what it is like)- a living nightmare. Not feeling safe in your mind, ten years can pass and you’re still stuck back where you were all those years ago. To anyone reading this with PTSD at times you can feel all alone but I ensure you’re not, it shattered my life.
Continuously scanning and evaluating multiple sounds, near and far, day and night, awake or asleep, for anything that might be a threat. Deep exhaustion. Waking up at night in a state of alarm, soaked with sweat from intense dreams with thick clammy atmospheres that stay with me through the next day. In a permanent state of alarm. Like being trapped in a nether-world, or a spider’s web, where normal social functioning has become a distant memory.
For me PTSD is the road to Infinity, once you start there is no end and there is no turning back, all you can do is take the same trip over and over and after enough laps around the same road I realized there is no end and this is something I am just going to have to deal with and I can’t..over and over and over again.
…a completely life shattering event and one which would leave me stranded between life and death, somewhere resembling “no-mans land”. It has far wider implications and complexities than any text book definition or clinical classification can grasp or stranger “looking in” could possibly understand. I liken it to a creeping ivy which is slow to take its hold in the beginning but with time invades every aspect of your life. Left to its own devices and in time, it flourishes and can outcompete its host which is left stranded and slowly diminishes. If left unmanaged it can become quite overwhelming by then you are well and truly under its control. Before you know it your life is totally eclipsed and all that remains is an exterior shell whereby you co-exist but you cease to live.
PTSD is like having a wound that is always open and that certain situation can possibly make worse. You don’t want to get back into the game because you feel so vulnerable. You feel your psyche being drained by social situations, you feel your soul being dimmed and your spirit being lost. Emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually if your lucky can just have intense feelings. Other results they may feel like they are dead. You usually feel weak and like a coward because you can’t function and when you do, you feel like a hurt animal waiting to be picked off for good.
I am unable to accept and process what has happened.
PTSD is all about being STUCK. Stuck in the moment of horror, unable to move past it. The feeling is very much like being trapped in a nightmare, unable to wake up; or like a computer that’s “frozen” and incapable of functioning.
A ‘fracture’ in your experience of life, caused by a traumatic event. This fracture is caused in your mind, by you (and no one else). It’s a response for attempting to cope with what happened. But unfortunately, it’s an ill-informed response. And it’s one that makes you feel like something is being done ‘to you’ instead of what’s really going on, which is that your own mind is causing you to re-live your trauma over and over again.
A sense of being STUCK in the trauma, like being in a nightmare and unable to wake up.
Feeling physically and emotionally exhausted, depleted by trauma.
Easily overwhelmed by life, often unable to function, even at performing simple tasks, like a bogged-down or “frozen” computer .
Unbearable emotional pain, i.e.: debilitating depression, overwhelming, paralyzing anxiety, and terrifying rages that may induce fear of “becoming like the abuser.”
A sense of having no personal identity.
Psychological and physical symptoms, such as an extreme Startle Reflex, Recurring Nightmares, Flashbacks, Phobias, and Disturbed Sleep Patterns.
PTSD is, in a nutshell, not being able to differentiate in your mind the past, present and future.
In the present, people, situations, smells and noises merge and trigger into those things from the past.
Being stuck in a fog..and sometimes even like sinking into a dark abyss.
Describing PTSD for me, is like trying to claw my way up and out of the deep hole that I have fallen into. I get so far and then something will happen. I will witness a similar tragedy, I hear sirens, or helicopters, drive by an accident, etc., and I slowly slide right back down into the hole. I then realize that I am safe there and don’t really want to leave.
My experience of PTSD is complete exhaustion, easily overwhelmed by “normal” life and getting through a day. I find that I am angry at most people now because I can’t stand this pervasive sense of entitlement that society seems to have and the selfishness that goes with it. I never felt this way before the traumatic event. I used to be compassionate, understanding and selfless. Now I am hateful, disgusted and intolerant. I feel like I don’t care anymore about anyone but my own immediate family. This is not who I used to be and not who I want to be. I feel as if something pure has been taken from me.
PTSD is like being frozen in the moment the trauma happened. You can not break the cycle. Sleep is impossible, and I became an agoraphobic. I can only hope one day to not relive what happened to me.
Complex PTSD is as close to death as you can possibly imagine; you actually believe you’re not going to make it. It’s like something bigger than the universe stole your identity and soul and your left as a shell, stuck on repeat that beats you down further. Horror. You lose yourself and fight every moment to get her back until you realize she’s gone, you have to create a new life, a new identity. It’s years of soul-depleting loss and then years of soul-nourishing work and patience. Then you realize PTSD is a GIFT for a broken soul, because you become a whole soul. After the despair comes a GREAT FAITH, and you see the world with new eyes. You count your blessings every day and most importantly–you live in and for the moment.
PTSD, to me, is like running away from a bad guy in a dark forest and jumping into the bushes to hide. After the man is gone and you are ready to get out of the bushes, you realize that the bush is full of thorns and is stuck in your clothes and hair and you just can’t escape.
I feel like I am stuck on a roller coaster. Sometimes the ride is smooth and most of the time its rough, too fast, scary and out of control. I can not get off this ride.
PTSD for me is trying to escape a dark power dwelling around me. Then when I am able to step into the light one small thing slows me down. When the darkness catches back up to me I feel like “Why try to escape again?” It’s such a part of me, I don’t even know how to live without it.
I imagine that in my amygldyla, the deepest part of the brain, a highjacker, who has successfully severed communication to the rest of my mind, leaving me in the blinding hell of only FIGHT, FRIGHT or FREEZE. Every part of my body FEELS this message down to smallest hairs covering my skin that have become thousands of little eyes and ears -constantly scanning the environment – translating every “normal” sound and movement into a threat to my life.
PTSD to me is an echo that seems to follow me wherever I go. It is a solitude that embraces my everyday. A battle that at times I think it is over until I realize it is effecting me again in yet a different way. It is as though the person I once was has vanished and those that surround me do not understand where I have gone. Clouded by misunderstandings, frustration, and a battle that I want to win. Daily life can be a challenge and one day I know that in the end the battle will be worth the journey.
PTSD is like being loaded down with fear, anger, distrust and hypervigilance. Being hypervigilant is the norm, and sleep is non-existent without medicine (in my case). Shell-shocked is a good way to describe it. Reliving movies in my mind of abusive moments, or dreaming of bad things happening to me. Being afraid of just about anything, having no trust, feeling angry over just about everything.
The world is a hostile, scary place to many of us with PTSD. I spend most of my time at home, where I’m safe and nobody is judging me. I’d love to have friends but as I get older, they are few and far between so I stopped socializing.
There is a delicate porcelain figure. It is not the beautiful kind you see on a shelf, it is ugly beyond description. The slightest wind will knock it over and break it forever. So it is locked inside a great double-walled brick box. It must never see or be seen. It therefor will not experience pain of any kind. Nor will it, however, experience anything. Not love, affection, the wind in her hair, nothing. To protect this creature is the one and only goal.In spite of being protected from breakage, it is, in fact, already destroyed. And dead.
PTSD symptoms cover a wide range.
First, let’s get the lingo straight. If you’re stressed over an exam, or you don’t like having to deal with your boss, you do nothave PTSD. You’re just stressed; totally different. Actual PTSD symptoms are classified in 3 specific categories.
Causes of PTSD cover a wide range.
Originally, PTSD was applied to the military experience. But in fact, there are many traumatic events that cause the disorder. According to Sidran Foundation (one of our leading trauma organizations) the anxiety disorder PTSD appears in:
“Anyone who has been victimized or has witnessed a violent act, or who has been repeatedly exposed to life-threatening situations.”
This means that PTSD happens in both the military and civilian worlds with equal opportunity.
This includes survivors of:
- Domestic or intimate partner violence
- Rape or sexual assault or abuse
- Physical assault such as mugging or carjacking
- Other random acts of violence such as those that take place in public, in schools, or in the workplace
- Children who are neglected or sexually, physically, or verbally abused, or adults who were abused as children
Survivors of unexpected events in everyday life such as:
- Car accidents or fires
- Natural disasters, such as tornadoes or earthquakes
- Major catastrophic events such as a plane crash or terrorist act
- Disasters caused by human error, such as industrial accidents, medical mistakes
- Combat veterans or civilian victims of war
- Those diagnosed with a life-threatening illness or who have undergone invasive
- Professionals who respond to victims in trauma situations, such as, emergency medical service workers, police, firefighters, military, and search and rescue workers
- People who learn of the sudden unexpected death of a close friend or relative
According to the Dept. of Veterans Affairs: “Judith Herman notes that during long-term traumas, the victim is generally held in a state of captivity, physically or emotionally. In these situations the victim is under the control of the perpetrator and unable to flee.”
Examples of captivity include:
- Concentration camps
- Prisoner of War camps
- Prostitution brothels
- Long-term domestic violence
- Long-term, severe physical abuse
- Child sexual abuse
- Organized child exploitation rings
“Reaction to the extremes of combat cause physical changes in the brain,” says Dr. John Fortunato with Beaumont Army Medical Center. A part of the brain responsible for the “fight or flight” response can grow in size by as much as 8 percent, while the part of the brain that takes time to analyze a threatening situation can shrink by as much as 12 percent.
“The longer a person is exposed to an environment where they must be hypervigilant to stay alive, the more pronounced the changes,” he continued. The good news, Fortunato said, is that the brain can normalize over time.
PTSD and the brain are intimately linked.
Do you have trouble remembering things? Do you have trouble finding words to express yourself? Do you have trouble regulating your emotions? PTSD causes changes in brain chemistry and functioning. Read up!
All this time you’ve been thinking maybe you’re crazy, but there are often scientific reasons for much of your behavior, including increased, diminished and killed brain regions, functions and neurons. Consider the following:
- Can’t find the words to express your thoughts? That’s because the prefontal lobe (responsible for language) is adversely affected by trauma, which gets in the way of its linguistic function.
- Can’t regulate your emotions? How could you when the amygdala (responsible for emotional regulation) is in such overdrive that in some PTSD survivors it actually enlarges.
- Having problem with short-term memory loss? Of course you are: studies show that in some PTSD survivors the hippocampus (responsible for memory and experience assimilation) actually shrinks in volume.
- Always feeling frightened no matter what you do? Understandable when your medial prefontal cortex (responsible for regulating emotion and fear responses) doesn’t regulate itself or function properly after trauma.
Watch our PTSD webinar series for more information.
PTSD can leave you wondering about things.
Do you have to be in the military to have PTSD? Can PTSD be healed? How long will it take? Is there one treatment method that works for everyone? There are several standard PTSD questions that might be running through your mind. We’ve pulled them all together into one tidy space.
To follow are the most asked questions regarding PTSD and recovery. The answers should help you get more of a clear handle on things.
For further and more in-depth information, download any of the free archives of our radio show for in-depth analysis, answers and explanations by experts in the field of trauma, PTSD and recovery.
Can PTSD be cured?
The answer is, Yes. Every day survivors everywhere are taking steps to take back their power, redefine their identities and let go of the past.
How long does it take to heal PTSD?
There is no set time for PTSD healing. Everyone’s healing journey is individual and depends on their own desire, determination and access to the therapeutic process best suited to them. This means healing can take as little as one month or as long as a few years. The important thing is to be flexible and not try to force it but let recovery evolve at a pace that allows the results to remain solid and organic.
What’s the best treatment option?
Since everyone’s healing path is individual it is up to survivors and their support network to research available therapeutic interventions and then choose what to try. If/when one doesn’t work DO NOT GIVE UP! Part of the healing process can be failing at it, and then getting up and trying again — finding a new therapist or practitioner, learning about a new technique. Healing is not a straight line. Don’t expect it to go smoothly, quickly or just like it did for someone else. Healing is cumulative. Keep uncovering new ideas and try them all until you find the combination that works for you.
Do you have to be in the military to have PTSD?
No, PTSD has a variety of causes. Read here to see a comprehensive list.
Do I have to have every PTSD symptom in order to be diagnosed?
Not at all! People evidence PTSD in different ways. Take this ptsd test to see if your experience might qualify.
Can you have PTSD without remembering every detail of the traumatic event?
You absolutely can. Sometimes the mind puts in place a coping mechanism that doesn’t allow you to consciously remember the trauma. However, the subconscious mind retains all the details and will continue to react to them until treatment occurs.
How do you understand PTSD when the memories aren’t clear?
PTSD is a mental health condition the presents as a reaction to trauma. Memories don’t need to be clear for you to understand that your subconscious mind is still reacting to events. PTSD symptoms are real evidence of the stress of experience. Understanding PTSD means comprehending that trauma can lie below the surface of the conscious mind and still have dramatic effects. When memories aren’t clear treatment can still occur by focusing on relieving the symptoms and the patterns of beliefs they represent.
How do you make sense of PTSD when the strength of symptoms don’t equal the clarity of the memory?
It all comes back down to the difference between the conscious and subconscious mind. The subconscious mind, in order to protect you, may bury memories. However, their existence still remains and the stress of the lack of resolution surrounding them can cause greater and greater degrees of symptoms. You make sense of PTSD by addressing the fact of its existence through therapeutic intervention.
Does PTSD get worse over time?
PTSD does continue to develop as time goes by. For this reason upon diagnosis immediate intervention is recommended.
Can you get PTSD from emotional abuse and neglect without violence?
Yes. Childhood abuse of this kind frequently sets up survivors for a PTSD experience.
How can I manage flashbacks?
Good question! There are several techniques to try. Check out these PTSD flashback and anxiety resources.
If you’re a PTSD caregiver you need to know: It’s okay if YOU need help, too.
The following resources will provide you with information, education and actions to help you take care of yourself at the same time that you are taking care of your PTSD loved one.
PTSD Caregivers Support
If you’re a PTSD caregiver you need to know: It’s okay if YOU need help, too. The following resources will provide you with information, education and actions to help you take care of yourself at the same time that you are taking care of your PTSD loved one:
Listen to our BlogTalk Radio special interviewing two PTSD caregivers about the triumphs and pitfalls of dealing with PTSD, and also ways to incorporate caregiver self-care at all times.
Read this page about 10 Tips For Understanding Someone With PTSD.
Major sources of caregiver support are family and friends. You are not alone. Your family members and friends (and even a therapist) are there not just to hear you complain about how frustrated and upset you are with your loved one or to listen to how you think you made a breakthrough today. By all means, share this information and also remember that support doesn’t always have to mean supporting your PTSD relief efforts. Support can also mean that they’re supporting YOU as a person.
Family and friends know you and remember who you were before you became so wrapped up in fixing your loved one. They can be there to tell you when enough is enough, see from the outside when you need a break, and to sense when you’re losing a part of yourself in your quest to save your loved one. Spend time with your friends and family doing things you enjoy, talking about their lives, enjoying their company. Allow yourself to be refreshed so that you can bring a refueled and dynamic perspective to your PTSD caregiving role and efforts.
PTSD Caregiver Burnout
It isn’t easy living with someone who is dealing with PTSD. There’s a very real chance that you’ll start to feel what is known as “compassion fatigue” or in layman’s terms – BURNOUT! Compassion fatigue occurs when a caregiver neglects their own self-care in favor of putting most of their effort and focus on caring for their loved one. To learn more about compassion fatigue, read on and consider this valuable resource as well: http://www.compassionfatigue.org
Signs of PTSD Caregiver Burnout
You might be experiencing compassion fatigue if you hear yourself say (or think):
- “You know what, they just don’t want to get better. I’m tired of helping someone who doesn’t want help!”
- “Why do they keep lashing out at me? What have I ever done but try to help?”
- “I can’t even bring myself to ask them how they’re doing, I know it is just going to be the same old answer.”
- “I know exactly what they should do, but they won’t do it. Forget it.”
Other signs of burnout:
- Feeling of dread when approaching time to encounter your loved one
- Blaming yourself because they aren’t getting better
- Physical fatigue
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Feeling depressed
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Poor hygiene
- Poor eating habits
- Apathy, feeling numb
- Difficulty concentrating
- Isolating yourself or avoiding others
- Compulsive behaviors
- Substance Abuse
… and more.
Strategize How To Cope
1. Don’t take things personally. First of all, when your loved one lashes out at you, please understand that it’s not YOU, it’s the PTSD. Self blaming isn’t helping anyone here. Let the symptoms belong to your loved one alone. This takes practice and it is especially hard when you’re emotionally close to a trauma survivor. To put it simply, understand this: What a person says or does to you tells you much more about him or her than it reveals about you. This takes you back to third grade when Mom told you that Jimmy’s a jerk if he said your jacket was ugly. She was right. Your jacket is fine. Jimmy, he’s got some issues. Forget about his opinion of your jacket and remember what you learned about Jimmy. Anytime you make it about you, you’re placing undue pressure on yourself as well as distracting from the real issue at hand
2. Remind yourself that you are not their therapist or doctor. It’s okay if you don’t know what to do to help. This is a very difficult situation to understand and to deal with. Give yourself permission to not try to fix things.
3. Stay consistent in what you are good at and what your role actually is. You are friend, relative, partner. Your role is to provide support and to provide love. If you want to really shoot for the stars, you can love unconditionally. This is difficult. But remember, it isn’t your fault. It isn’t your loved one’s fault, either. It is important to let the PTSD claim the blame for the difficulties you’re experiencing. When you do this, it allows your relationship to stand strong, allows trust to build, helps the person with PTSD to see that they can have a good relationship even with these symptoms. Focus on that, and you’ll have a better chance of helping your survivor along the journey.
If you’d like to, it might be a good idea to talk about how your loved one’s PTSD has been affecting you. There may be times you feel you need some space. You’re entitled to feel that way! First, however, have a kind and compassionate discussion laying some groundrules for your absence so that your PTSD loved one understands that you aren’t abandoning him or her but just refueling for your own health. Keep in mind a few tips when and if you decide to broach the topic.
1. Claim your own feelings. “I feel upset and I’d like to spend some time alone to figure out my feelings,” or “I feel tired and I think I need to do some alone time to refresh myself,” are good ways to communicate your feelings and intentions.
2. When they ask if it is because of them, let them know how you’ve received/interpreted things. “When you close the door and don’t respond when I knock, I wonder if you are trying to get away from me. I take your actions personally.” This allows them to confirm or deny if it is personal or not and it allows you to say how you feel without making it sound as if they are to blame for how you feel.
3. Follow through with what you say. If you say you want to get away to refresh, then do it. Even if the conversation went well so now you feel there is no need, or if you felt guilty and as if you’d be abandoning him or her if you went, still take that small break. You’ll show your survivor and yourself that taking small breaks is survivable and beneficial. (Obviously use discretion with children or persons with disabilities).
Give Yourself Space
One thing you can do to help yourself recharge is to refresh yourself emotionally, physically, and socially. Remember, you have a life, too, and it’s time you participated in it! It would also be prudent to let go of some of the responsibilities you’ve placed on yourself. Responsibilities that don’t necessarily belong to you.
Ways to refresh include:
1 – Emotionally: journal for self-reflection, therapy, coaching, do things you enjoy
2 – Physically: exercise, spend time away physically
3 – Socially: get YOUR friend time in, get out of the house yourself
Ways to Let Go
If you find yourself clinging to your loved one who is suffering from PTSD, it’s time we looked into the issue of codependency. It’s possible that you depend on being the helper as much as your loved one depends on being the receiver of help.
1. Learn about codependency and examine yourself
2. List what you’re doing for your loved one that he/she could be doing for him or herself.
3. Talk to your loved one about the ideas you’ve come up with and ask where he or she would like to start taking responsibility.
4. If you’re having particular trouble letting go of the control over your loved one’s life choices & decisions, it might be a great time to talk about trying family therapy.
PTSD symptoms don’t go away by themselves.
The best thing you can do is find treatment, coping techniques and support to help you through the process.
Mental Health Directories: Search for a practitioner near you.
In-Patient Programs & Residential Programs
McLean Hospital in the Boston area
The Meadows in the Boston area
Share Initiative for post 9/11 military members at The Shepherd Center in Atlanta
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder help can include a good book or workbook so that you can (at our own pace) discover what PTSD is and how you can proactively work to heal it.
No sweat; with input from survivors worldwide we’ve made a reading list.
This list has been compiled by survivors who used the following books to support and further their own healing:
Trauma & PTSD theory:
Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence from Domestic Abuse to Political Terror
The Body Remembers: The Psychophysiology of Trauma and Trauma Treatment
Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma The Innate Capacity to Transform Overwhelming Experiences
Peter A. Levine
A Mind Frozen in Time: A PTSD Recovery Guide
Jeremy P. Crosby
Rebuilding Shattered Lives: The Responsible Treatment of PTSD and Dissociative Disorders
Dr. James Chu
No Open Wounds, Heal Traumatic Stress
Dr. Robert Bray
The Inner World of Trauma: Archetypal Defenses of the Personal Spirit
Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal
Bellaruth Naparstek and Robert Scaer
Healing PTSD workbooks:
The PTSD Workbook: Simple, Effective Techniques for Overcoming Traumatic Stress Symptoms
Mary Beth Willams & Soili Poijula
I Can’t Get over it: A Handbook for Trauma Survivors
The Way of the Journal: A Journal Therapy Workbook for Healing
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Relationship: How To Support Your Partner and Keep Your Relationship Healthy
Conquering Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: The Newest Techniques for Overcoming Symptoms, Regaining Hope, and Getting Your Life Back
Victoria Lemle Beckner & John B. Arden
Life After Trauma, A Workbook for Healing
Dena Rosenbloom and Mary Beth Williams
The Dissociative Identity Disorder Sourcebook
Healing through the Dark Emotions, The Wisdom of Grief, Fear, and Despair
Deborah Morris Coryell
Personal Accounts of Trauma Recovery:
My Stroke of Insight
Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor
Crazy: A Father’s Search Through America’s Mental Health Madness
The Drama of the Gifted Child: The Search for the True Self
Alice Miller (author shares personal experience)
Betrayal Trauma: The Logic of Forgetting Childhood Abuse
Jennifer Freyd (author shares personal experience)
Legacy of the Heart: The Spiritual Advantage of a Painful Childhood
Surviving and Transcending a Traumatic Childhood: The Dark Thread
Linda Skogrand, Nikki DeFrain, John DeFrain, Jean E. Jones
For survivors of childhood sexual abuse:
The Courage to Heal
Ellen Bass and Laura Davis
The Courage to Heal Workbook
Allies in Healing
I never Told Anyone: Writings by Women Survivors of Childhood Abuse
The Sexual Healing Journey: A Guide for Survivors of Sexual Abuse
Outgrowing the Pain: A Book for and About Adults Abused as Children
About the Brain:
The Brain that Changes Itself
Lifting Depression: A Neuroscientist’s Hands-On Approach to Activating Your Brain’s Healing Power
The Open-Focus Brain: Harnessing the Power of Attention to Heal the Mind & Body
Les Fehmi & Jim Robbins
Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain: How A New Science Reveals Our Extraordinary Potential to Transform Ourselves
Rewiring the Brain: Living Without Stress and Anxiety Through the Power of Consciousness
The Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter and Miracles
Understanding the Dangers of Caeserean Birth: Making Informed Decisions
When Survivors Give Birth: Understanding and Healing The Effects of Early Sexual Abuse on Childbearing
Penny Simkin & Phyllis Klaus
Born In the USA: How A Broken Maternity System Must Be Fixed To Put Women and Children First
Many Lives, Many Masters
Dr. Brian Weiss
The Hero Within: Six Archetypes We Live By
The Alchemist (A Novel)
Man’s Search for Meaning
No Matter What: Transforming Loss and Change into Gift and Opportunity