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Coping with PTSD symptoms

Dealing with PTSD symptoms yourself

The main factor that keeps PTSD symptoms going is avoiding thinking about the event. It’s entirely understandable that people should not want to think about what happened. It’s unpleasant, can be terrifying and can lead to symptoms of anxiety and panic for some. However, thinking about what happened, with trusted people in a safe environment is central to processing the memory and overcoming PTSD.

Here are some tips to help think about and talk about what happened, while simultaneously managing the difficult emotions that may emerge when doing so.

  • If you experience flashbacks, keep your eyes open, walk around and notice where you are. Remind yourself that flashbacks are a normal reaction to traumatic memories.
  • Look around you. Notice (and say out loud) 5 things you can see, 4 things you can hear and 3 things you can feel. This helps you feel grounded and in the present, and less susceptible to experience flashbacks to the event.
  • Have a tissue closeby with something that smells nice on it. It needs to be a strong and pleasant smell such as Olbas oil, lavender or vapour rub. Smell the tissue often as you think or speak about the event. The reason for this is that smell is one of our strongest senses and it can help to keep you grounded and present.
  • Reduce other stress as much as possible. You can only cope with so much and you need your resources to help you process the event.
  • Consider mindfulness exercises to help you notice but not react to bodily sensations, thoughts and images. The Headspace app is a helpful tool.
  • The usual fundamentals might need revisiting. Exercise, don’t drink too much caffeine or alcohol, eat balanced meals three times a day.
  • Remember that traumatic memories feel overwhelming at first but lessen over time.

Dr. Marie Thompson 

+971 (0) 4 4403844
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Dubai Healthcare City, right next door to City Hospital

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