Setting Boundaries with PTSD

When it comes to overcoming PTSD, setting boundaries is a crucial part of your recovery. There are many different kinds of boundaries that you might need to set, and these are going to depend on your own personal needs and preferences. The most important thing to remember when setting any sort of boundaries is that you need to be practicing open and honest communication. If you know that certain places and things are going to trigger you, everyone else around you might not. Communicating these things to them can go a long way in helping you, and helping them to help you.


If you’re in therapy, you might find yourself feeling uncomfortable with the things that your therapist wants you to talk about. Or, if you’re doing exposure therapy, your therapist might be moving you along too quickly.  If either of these is the case, it’s perfectly okay to tell them that you’re not ready to go there yet. Communicating this to them can help them to know where you are in your progress, and help you to go at a pace that works for you. After all, no one knows yourself better than you do, and that includes your therapist.


Another boundary to remember when taking therapy is that your relationship with your therapist should remain friendly, yet professional. Thinking that you have feelings for someone who you share private details of your life with can be an easy thing to do, and can even be a normal outcome. But acting on these feelings is not, and keeping things purely professional is a strict boundary that you should always keep with your therapist.


You should also consider setting boundaries with your family and friends. Again, communication is really important here. The people that you have in your life might not know your trigger points, and they can only have an idea if you tell them. Sometimes this is difficult to do because you don’t want to have to admit weaknesses to them, or you don’t want to seem like a burden. Your triggers are not weaknesses, and telling your loved ones can actually help them to help you.


It also helps if they know more about PTSD. Sometimes, friends and family can make things worse without meaning to. If they don’t realize the seriousness of what you’re asking them, they might think that overstepping your boundaries is a harmless game. You can help to educate them by giving them informational pamphlets or even inviting them to one of your therapy sessions.


If someone you know violates the boundaries that you set, it’s also important to enforce them. Set consequences and let them know what those consequences are. Stop spending time with those that don’t respect your boundaries or that make you feel less than you really are. Instead, hang out with those that support you and help lift you up. This will help you develop into a stronger person and lead you on your way to healing from your PTSD.

Somatic Experiencing – an Alternate Path to Healing PTSD

There are many ways to cope with PTSD, and it’s all a matter of finding what works best for you. One alternate way of dealing with PTSD is through a form of therapy called Somatic Experiencing, or SE.


Somatic Experiencing focuses on your physical body – how it feels, moves, and responds to certain, thoughts, images, and environments. So it’s less about what’s in your head, and more about what’s happening to you on the outside. Recognizing your outer bodily responses is the beginning of learning how to harness and control them, which can lead you on your way to overcoming PTSD, instead of letting it overcome you.


This alternative form of PTSD healing therapy was developed by psychologist Peter A. Levine, who specializes in trauma therapy. If you think you would like to know more about Somatic Experiencing and want to find out if this path is the right one for you, you should check out the book, Waking the Tiger, which was actually written by Peter A. Levine himself.


In it, Levine goes on to tell the story of Nancy, a graduate student who couldn’t figure out why she kept having panic attacks. By using the vision of a tiger, Levine was able to help Nancy begin to recover from her mental illness. This book is an inspiring read, and might even be able to help you on your path to recovery too. The key to overcoming PTSD is to find the best healing approach that works for you.

Unspoken Symptoms of PTSD: Hypervigilance

You’ve heard about the grand list of PTSD symptoms, but some of them can be overlooked or misunderstood. Have you ever heard of hypervigilance? Having hypervigilance means that you are constantly on the alert, looking for danger and waiting for the next attack to hit at any moment. People that are hypervigilant usually have a hard time relaxing, especially in public. They feel the need to always watch their backs and have a plan of escape or defense wherever they go. Does this sound like you? If you have PTSD, you likely have hypervigilance too.


Hypervigilance is a natural bodily response for having been exposed to dangerous environments for a long period of time, but always being on the lookout can be pretty exhausting. Your body can become tense from unease, creating stiff and sore muscles. Your lack of focus on anything else can also interfere with work and relationships with people. The stress and anxiety of it all can leave you feeling ready to collapse at any moment.


So what can you do to get some relief from hypervigilance? There are a few options available. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is one that can help you learn to control the way you respond to the world around you, while Exposure Therapy is a great way to conquer your fears. Eye Movement Desensitization Therapy is yet another great form of therapy. If none of this enough, you can also consider taking different kinds of medications. If you want a more natural approach, you can try mindful training to help you be able to “live in the moment.”


PTSD is a difficult battle, but not an impossible one. There are lots of options out there to help you fight the symptoms and eventually overcome PTSD for good.

PTSD In Partnerships

Dealing with PTSD can be really difficult, but not just for the one with the diagnosis. If one person has it, it can cause friends and family to struggle too – just in a different way. If you are dating someone who has PTSD, you know that it can cause some tension in the relationship. This is especially true for people who suffer from Complex PTSD.


Complex PTSD (C-PTSD)  is very similar to normal PTSD, except the victim is unable to escape the stressful environment that is causing it. With time, people that suffer from normal PTSD can learn to cope with the event in the past and overcome the fears that arose from it. But with C-PTSD, there is no break from the event to give the sufferer any relief or time to heal.


Your partner having PTSD could be something you’re just now finding out about as you go further into the relationship. This can be upsetting and hard to deal with, especially if you feel that it is something that they have tried to keep from you. But remember that them admitting their weaknesses to you is a big sign of trust from them, regardless of how long it took them to come to you about it. For those that suffer from PTSD, problems like trust issues, anxiety, and paranoia are all part of the disorder, so the thing that they need most from you is your loving support and understanding.


The PTSD diagnosis could have also been given to your significant other during your relationship. If this is the case, remember that this is all scary, if not scarier, news for the sufferer than it is for you. Go to them with open arms, but also remember to give them the space they need too.


PTSD can be the root cause of many relationship problems, as it can make the sufferer feel less understood, which can fuel unnecessary arguments. Many PTSD sufferers also experience emotional outbursts, as they are unable to keep their emotions in check. Sometimes, these bursts are taken out on the person nearest to them. That person tends to be their significant other, which can cause even more fights. More fights can mean more time apart and even isolation from each other, causing a downfall in the relationship.


At least with normal PTSD, there is some hope that by getting proper treatment, the relationship can be restored and the two of you can go back to being normal and happy again. But when your partner suffers from C-PTSD, it can feel as though there isn’t an end in sight. Your partner likely feels hopeless and worthless, and understanding this can go a long way in keeping a relationship alive. Try to practice open communication, and always be there to offer support and motivation. Encourage them to seek help, and maybe even try couple’s therapy if you feel that things are just getting to be too much. Remind them that the pain is only temporary, and whatever is causing their C-PTSD is bound to be put to an end eventually.

4 Ways to Treat PTSD

Whether you’ve had PTSD for a long time, or you’ve just been diagnosed recently, you might be wondering how you can get back to your normal self and begin to enjoy life once again. There are many different approached you can take, but the best thing to do if to find what works the best for you. Here are 4 ways to treat PTSD:


Medications –

Medications are the most popular, and probably the best option for those with severe and debilitating PTSD. There are no medications specifically for treating PTSD itself, but many can help alleviate the symptoms. SSRIs are great for reducing depression and anxiety that comes along with having PTSD, and SNRIs are another option for reducing depression. Always talk with your doctor before starting or stopping any medications.


Psychotherapy –

There are a few different kinds of psychotherapy available, and these kinds of treatments usually go hand in hand with being treated medicinally as well. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a form of talk therapy that focuses on thoughts, feelings, and behavior. Cognitive processing therapy is very similar, but has more to do with processing and analyzing the traumatic event. EMDR is another form of psychotherapy, and it uses your eye movements to help you process the traumatic event.


Alternative Treatments –

Alternative treatments include things such as trauma-sensitive yoga and acupuncture to help relieve the stress and anxiety that come along with PTSD. This kind of treatment tends to be more natural, less invasive and comes with fewer side effects.


Innovative Treatments –

These kinds of treatments are going to be much more creative. Types of innovative treatment include Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy to help desensitize the person from their fears and help them overcome their traumatic experience. Other innovative treatments involve using drugs such as ketamine infusions or MDMA to help lessen PTSD symptoms and calm the person down enough to be able to face their trauma more effectively.


As you can see, there are lots of different options for treatment out there. The internet can help you decide what you think will work the best for your journey to recovery, but always discuss your options with your doctor first.

The Real Dangers of Bullying

Trauma doesn’t have to come in the form of a bloody accident or life-threatening attack. In fact, many of our own children are experiencing the type of violence that can lead to PTSD on a daily basis.


Bullying is a real problem. Between 25% and 33% of young people experience bullying, especially while they are in middle school. This can include verbal teasing, rumors being spread about them, being excluded from a group, having other kids gang up on them, cyberbullying, and, of course, physical violence.  


Some adults hear about bullying and think, “What’s the big deal? Kids have always teased and run around in cliques. They’ve always gotten into scuffles. What’s so wrong with that?”


The answer is: a lot. This type of bullying, while often pawned off as just kids being kids, is actually extremely detrimental to children’s mental health – including both the child being bullied and the one doing the bullying.


Children who are bullied have higher levels of depression and anxiety. They have higher feelings of loneliness and sadness. They may struggle with changes in sleep patterns and eating habits. You may notice that many of these symptoms sound familiar. Children who face harsh or ongoing bullying begin to suffer from PTSD or become more susceptible to getting PTSD later in life. The symptoms they show while being bullied as a child can persist throughout their lives into adulthood, and their learning is affected too. Victims of bullying have lower grades, less school participation, and are more likely to skip and drop out of school.


While the victims of bullying suffer the most and are the innocent ones, the bullies themselves are hurt by this behavior too. They are more likely to abuse alcohol and drugs in adolescence and when they’re adults. They often get into trouble with fighting and vandalizing property, and when they grow up they are more likely to become criminals. They tend to become sexually active at earlier ages, and as adults, they are more likely to be abusive towards their partners and children. And, like the children they bully, they are more likely to drop out of school.


So how can you tell if your child is being bullied? The first thing is to always try to build a relationship of trust with open communication so that they will come to you if they are facing a bad situation. Even then, children often feel embarrassed and want to hide these types of things or feel they should handle it themselves. Here are some warning signs that may indicate that your child is being bullied:


  • They begin to isolate themselves
  • They begin to have physical symptoms that keep them from going to school functions, such as stomach aches
  • Their grades begin to drop
  • They have trouble sleeping
  • Depression
  • Anxiety


If you see any of these signs in your child, you should talk to them to see if they are experiencing bullying. By giving them support and reaching out to the school, you can help them end the trauma and create a healthy environment for all students. Don’t be afraid to get your child help or therapy, because bullying can lead to PTSD, depression, and other serious conditions that can be overcome with the aid of a trained professional.


EMDR and Overcoming PTSD

Treatment for PTSD and the effects of trauma can be tricky. Most of the therapy and medications available are designed to help you cope with the symptoms of PTSD, but they don’t really address the root of it.  


When you have lived through violence and trauma, it changes your brain. You are haunted by the memories and your body and mind prepare itself for more trauma and violence.  This creates the anxiety, sleep troubles, irritability, and other symptoms that go along with PTSD. While treating those symptoms can be life saving for some people, and help others live a more normal life, we shouldn’t neglect treating the underlying memories.


But how do you treat a memory?  


Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, or EMDR, is a clinically proven method for processing and reforging your memories to help you deal with PTSD. It’s so powerful, that 100% of single trauma sufferers and 77% of multiple trauma sufferers were no longer diagnosed with PTSD after just 6 sessions! And even 77% of combat soldiers were no longer diagnosed with PTSD after 12 sessions. That’s powerful stuff!


So exactly is what is EMDR?


Basically, EMDR uses the patient’s rapid rhythmic eye movement to dampen the memories connected with the trauma.  The eye movement is believed to tap into the same brain processes as dreams and allows the brain to rewire itself.  


The steps involved can be daunting, but the end result can cure you of your PTSD. First, the trauma is visualized and brought to the surface and all negative emotions around it are identified and processed.  Once this is done, those negative emotions are replaced by positive ones. For example, a rape victim may work on replacing feelings of fear and disgust with a feeling of empowerment and the idea that “I am strong and I survived.”  This process isn’t instant and takes several sessions, but for most people, EMDR can be the end of their PTSD.