This may sound totally WEIRD, but Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is my favorite mental illness to treat! 🖤
PTSD can be a crippling experience for those who suffer with it.
Most folks who have PTSD experience some of the most disabling symptoms such as hyperarousal, agitation, irritability, hostility, hypervigilance, self-destructive behavior, social isolation, flashbacks, fear, severe anxiety, or mistrust.
These individuals often have a loss of interest or pleasure in activities, guilt, or shame.
As a result of insomnia, they get little sleep and once they do fall asleep, they awaken dripping in sweat with their heart racing from nightmares that seemed so real!
But there is HOPE!
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help reprocess the traumatic event that caused PTSD.
Eye-movement desensitization reprocessing (EMDR), which I plan to become certified in soon, can help reduce the stress of PTSD symptoms through specific eye movements in a manualized program.
Medications, specifically SSRIs and SNRIs, help those with PTSD by balancing the chemicals called neurotransmitters that are in our brain which modulate behavior and determine how you respond to stress.
There are 2 FDA approved medications for PTSD — Sertraline & Paroxetine; however, many clinicians successfully manage this illness with other SSRIs or SNRIs. What we must remember is that medications are not ONE SIZE FITS ALL!
Just because the medication is FDA approved for a particular illness does not mean it will have great efficacy for every person you treat.
Sleep is an underrated part of treatment that’s PARAMOUNT to the recovery of those who suffer with PTSD (or any mental illness).
Creating a sleep hygiene routine can help reduce stress and negative feelings associated with going to bed.
Crafting a sleep hygiene routine and implementing it can help reframe one’s brain from seeing nighttime as frightening.
Sleep hygiene ideas…
Have a specific time to start the routine such as the following:
🚿 at 8 pm
💊 sleep meds at 830
🎧 listen to something calming
📓 journal about 3 things you are grateful for
🧘🏾 when you close your eyes for bed, think of the those things just listed in the journal rather than allowing the cognitive distortions to take control
Most importantly, please know that PTSD does not have to wreck havoc in your life!
You can most certainly take back the control by approaching recovery with a well thought out plan in collaboration with a mental health professional.
Until the stigma is no more,
Sleep has been tough for me since childhood and only recently with the help of a trauma therapist did I connect it with CPTSD. Thank you for sharing this important information, Ashley! It’s empowering.
I like the suggested routine. I know someone who could benefit from it. Thank you !
Thank you for posting this. I had no idea I had PTSD until 6 years ago when my three oldest children and I started therapy after we were able to break free – finally! – from my ex husband. Not only do I have PTSD from my 10-year marriage, but also from my entire childhood. I currently take trazodone at night for sleep, which has helped immensely, although I still have breakthrough nightmares occasionally. At one point I was on sertraline, but it wasn’t very effective for me; my oldest son now takes it, but it appears it’s efficacy has declined for him as well.
Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find a solution that works for my oldest two, specifically my oldest daughter. She recently had a sleep study done which showed some mild apnea, but spends very little time in REM. We’re not sure if that has to do with PTSD or bipolar disorder – or if it’s both! Our quest for answers is still ongoing, but at least we’re still making progress.
Thank you for the insights, it is appreciated!
Such a great article. When I was suffering with PTSD symptoms, what helped me the most was getting my sleep hygiene routine together and guided imagery. When my sleep starts to get out of whack that’s when my symptoms start to re-emerge so YES honor your body with good quality sleep!